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 body of work, commitment, and distinct artistic vision. The Recipient of the Residency and Commission will create a new play which will be developed with the Playwrights' Center through a series of workshops and will culminate in a public reading of the play.

Recipients will not be required to move to Minnesota but will have opportunities to engage with local artists and the Playwrights' Center staff and fellows throughout their term (July 1, 2023-June 30, 2024). One of the goals of this program is to create dialogue between Minnesota-based artists and those outside of the community. Benefits include: a $15,000 commission, up to $12,250 in workshop funds to support the development of the play, and a public reading. Past recipients include: Sharon Bridgforth, Kia Corthron, Erik Ehn, Idris Goodwin, Karen Hartman, Daniel Alexander Jones, Sibyl Kempson, Taylor Mac, Dan O'Brien, Heather Raffo, Betty Shamieh, James Anthony Tyler, and Mfoniso Udofia.

Applicants must reside in and have the legal right to work in the U.S. Applicants must be nationally recognized playwrights who have had at least two different plays fully produced by professional theaters by the time of application. Minnesota-based playwrights are not eligible for this award. Recipients of the 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22, and 2022-23 McKnight Artist and Culture Bearer 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 or Core Writer benefits during the grant year. If a recipient is a Core Writer, their Core term will be extended by one year. Recipients must create a new play according to the terms of the contract. Applicants may only apply for one McKnight Artist and Culture Bearer Fellowship each year in any of the disciplines listed below.  

The McKnight Fellowship disciplines include: Printmaking (Highpoint Center), Book Arts (MCBA), Fiber Arts (Textile Center), Choreographers and Dancers (Cowles Center), Media Artists (FilmNorth), Visual Artists (MCAD), Ceramics (NCC), Composers (ACF), Musicians (MacPhail Center), Writers (the Loft), Playwrights (Playwrights’ Center), Theater Artists (Playwrights’ Center), Culture Bearers (Indigenous Roots), and Community-Engaged Artists (Pillsbury House).


Writing a play is simply a competition to be your best self by immersing yourself in what feels like the most truthful world of the story and putting that on the page. It’s an internal measure of what feels right and most creative to yourself and not a race against the clock to prove something to others. I understand the pressure to make money for survival, but I also understand that that shouldn’t be conflated with the art’s requirement. Writing a play is truly the spirit at work.

I am immensely grateful that I had the opportunity to be supported in the creation of a new play. [...] It’s essential that we continue to support the telling of stories and that audiences have the chance to empathize with all sorts of people and all sorts of struggles

– James Anthony Tyler
McKnight National Residency and Commission 2021-22

McKnight Foundation Community Values

The McKnight Foundation and the administering partners for the McKnight Artist and Culture Bearer Fellowships are committed to creating and supporting an artistic community in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. The community of the McKnight Artist and Culture Bearer Fellowships includes people who engage with the fellowships program whether as applicants, fellows, panelists, contractors, collaborators, fellowships administrators, and staff of the McKnight Foundation and partnering organizations. As a community, we commit to creating and maintaining relationships that are free from harm, prejudice, and harassment. Community members agree to communicate directly and transparently regarding issues of conduct that could negatively impact the well-being of participating members and organizations. In the case of an accusation, legal action, or conviction, the McKnight Foundation and its fellowship program partners may gather and assess relevant information. If deemed necessary, the McKnight Foundation and its fellowship program partners may take administrative action up to and including the recommendation of participation in reconciliation or restorative justice processes; disqualification of an application; the termination of a contract; and the recall and/or termination of a fellowship. This community will be what we make it and our aim is to collectively create an experience in which all artists and members of the McKnight Artist and Culture Bearer Fellowships community thrive.

The Application

(NOTE: The primary language used by evaluators during the selection process is English. If text is intentionally written not in English, a line of context would be helpful to an evaluator. Playwrights’ Center acknowledges this is an ethnocentric practice and hopes to expand access in the future. While most Fellowship activities and engagements are conducted in English, Playwrights' Center staff are available to discuss additional support and resources as necessary.)

Each application will contain the following pieces:

-Application Form
(including contact details, eligibility, and demographic 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 full length productions—running at least 45 minutes in performance— 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 deadline of December 8, 2022 do not count.

-Full-length play script
Submit a play that is representative of your work. A full-length play generally runs at least 45 minutes. If you are hoping to submit a script that is shorter than 45 minutes in length, please contact Julia at to discuss. Co-written work will not be accepted, and musicals may be submitted by the book writer only. If you have previously received a McKnight Artist and Culture Bearer Fellowship in any discipline, this script must have been completed after that fellowship year.

-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 you would like to develop  this piece with the Playwrights’ Center and your interest in engaging with the community here. Readers and panelists will be evaluating the specificity of your project and development/residency plans to the local community, so be sure to discuss why the Playwrights’ Center, Minneapolis, and/or Minnesota is the right place for you to work on the piece.

-One letter of recommendation
Please request one letter of recommendation from an artistic professional familiar with your work as a playwright. Letters must be received by the application deadline: December 8, 2022. You will be sending a request through the application portal below. You may request a letter through the application system before finishing your final application, so we recommend that you click on the link below and begin your application sooner rather than later to give your recommender time to complete their letter. Letters of recommendation from previous applications cannot be re-used for this program.

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 tutorial on using SlideRoom, please click here.

An information session about the application and program was held on Wednesday, November 9, 2022 at 12:00 p.m. CST on Zoom. A recording of that session is available below.

Applications for the 2023-24 McKnight National Residency and Commission are due Thursday, December 8, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. CST.

Click here to access the application in slideroom »

December 8, 2022
McKnight National Residency and Commission