McKnight National Residency and Commission

McKnight Foundation

The McKnight Foundation, a family foundation based in Minnesota, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive. The intent of the McKnight National Residency and Commission is to support an established playwright from outside of Minnesota who demonstrates a sustained level of accomplishment, commitment, and artistic excellence. Recipients of the Residency and Commission will spend the year (July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021) creating a new play script over the course of several residencies in Minnesota, including opportunities to engage with the Twin Cities and Playwrights' Center community. Benefits include:

  • A $15,000 commission
  • At least two U.S. round-trip airline tickets
  • Housing during the residency period
  • Up to $5,750 in workshop funds to support the development of the play
  • A public reading of the commissioned play

Past recipients include: Kia Corthron, Erik Ehn, Idris Goodwin, Karen Hartman, Daniel Alexander Jones, Sibyl Kempson, Craig Lucas, Taylor Mac, Dan O’Brien, Heather Raffo, Betty Shamieh, Mfoniso Udofia, and Mac Wellman.

Applicants must reside in and have the legal right to work in the United States during the fellowship term. Applicants must be nationally recognized playwrights who have had at least two different plays fully produced by professional theaters at the time of application. Minnesota-based playwrights are not eligible for this fellowship. Recipients of 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2019-20 McKnight Artist Fellowships in any discipline are not eligible. Full-time students are not eligible. Staff and board members of the McKnight Foundation and the Playwrights' Center or their immediate families are not eligible. Recipients may not receive any other Playwrights' Center fellowships, grants, or Core Writer benefits during the grant year. If a recipient is a Core Writer, their Core term will be extended by one year. Applicants may only apply for one McKnight Artist Fellowship each year in any discipline. Recipients commit to spending up to four weeks in residency in the Twin Cities (not necessarily consecutively). Recipients must create a new play according to the terms set forth in the contract.

The McKnight National Residency and Commission has been an extraordinary experience. This piece might have languished on my "to-do" list for years had I not had this opportunity to write it and work on it. I am forever grateful.
– Sibyl Kempson
McKnight National Residency and Commission recipient, 2013-14

The Application

Each application will contain the following pieces:

-Application Form (including contact details and eligibility information)

-Playwriting Resume
Please note clearly which productions listed on your resume (if any) meet the criteria for being "fully produced by a professional theater." Professional productions are defined as productions for which the author and primary artists (actors, directors, and creative collaborators) were reasonably compensated and that received at least three public performances each. Ten-minute or one-act plays and university, college, secondary school, amateur, and Equity showcase/waiver productions are not considered full professional productions. Productions that open after the application due date of December 12, 2019 do not count.

-Full-length play script
Submit a play that is representative of your work. A full-length play generally runs at least one hour in performance. Co-written work will not be accepted, and musicals may be submitted by the book writer only.

-2-3 page Project Proposal
This proposal should explain the project you intend to create if you receive the commission. The evaluators are looking for a project that is relevant, compelling, original, and that could reasonably have a first draft finished within the year. Please also detail why the Playwrights' Center and the Twin Cities are the right home to develop the proposed project and how engaging with the Playwrights' Center and/or Twin Cities community would benefit the development of the piece. The proposal should be 2-3 pages long.

-One letter of recommendation
Please request one letter of recommendation from an agent or theater professional. Letters must be received by the application deadline: December 12, 2019. You will be sending a request through the application portal below.

Questions may be addressed to Artistic Programs Manager Julia Brown at

Note: You will need to make a SlideRoom account in order to apply. If you are a Playwrights' Center member, your PWC login will not automatically log you in to SlideRoom—they are two different systems. If you already have a SlideRoom account, you should be able to access the application using your existing login.

For a video tutuorial on using SlideRoom, please click here.

Click here to access the application in slideroom »

December 12, 2019
McKnight National Residency and Commission