The McKnight Foundation, a family foundation based in Minnesota, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive.
The McKnight Theater Artist Fellowships at the Playwrights’ Center recognize theater artists other than playwrights. The intent of the program is to recognize and support mid-career artists living and working in Minnesota who demonstrate a sustained level of accomplishment, commitment, and attributes of artistic merit. The $25,000 fellowships are intended to significantly advance recipients’ art and careers.
NOTE: Advance notification of intent to apply is strongly encouraged (but not required). Local panelists attend performances to help familiarize themselves with applicants' work, so it is very important to declare your intent to apply and inform the Playwrights’ Center where and when your performances take place. You may notify the Center of intent to apply any time before the final application deadline. (You may submit a final application without notifying the Center in advance; however, by providing no notice of your intent to apply, you are limiting panelists’ ability to view your work in a live setting.)
Please note that although live performances are helpful to the panelists in getting to know your work, they are not the only factor. Two of the five panelists are specifically invited from outside of Minnesota, and therefore, will likely not have the opportunity to see applicants’ live performances. If you do not have any performances during the application cycle, you are still welcome to apply. You will submit a work sample and supporting materials which will be evaluated by the entire panel, and there are previous fellows who successfully applied without having any live work to share during the process.
We plan to provide two information sessions focused on writing artistic statements and one information session focused on creating a digital work sample, in partnership with Springboard for the Arts. We will let you know when these special sessions are scheduled. This is another reason to submit an intent to apply—everyone on that list will be notified about all working and information sessions.
Selection is based on a commitment to theater arts, evidence of professional achievement, and a sustained body of work over multiple years. The 2024-25 fellowship term is July 1, 2024-June 30, 2025. Recent recipients include: Sarah Agnew, Ansa Akyea, Barry Browning, Bart Buch, Shá Cage, Sun Mee Chomet, James Craven, Marcus Dilliard, Scott W. Edwards, D J Gramann II, Katharine Horowitz, Masanari Kawahara, Kurt Kwan, Elise Langer, Jim Lichtscheidl, Christopher Lutter-Gardella, Elizabeth MacNally, Greta Oglesby, Karin Olson, Sonja Parks, Denise Prosek, Joel Sass, Kate Sutton-Johnson, Michael Wangen, James A. Williams, Stephen Yoakam, Mathew LeFebvre, Austene Van, Abbee Warmboe, Wendy Weckwerth, Talvin Wilks, and Sally Wingert.
"Not only has this fellowship recognized and validated me as an artist, but it has also helped to provide stability in an often-unsustainable profession. In turn, this support also helps strengthen the theatrical community as a whole, allowing for more diverse voices, broader perspectives, and innovative new works. I am incredibly thankful to the McKnight Foundation for awarding me the 2022-23 McKnight Theater Artist Fellowship. It came at a time when the trajectory of my career was uncertain, and was in need of a little life support. Well, my vitals are back."
– Greta Oglesby
McKnight Theater Artist Fellow, 2022-23
- Declare your intent to apply
- Add an event to the performance calendar
- See application tips from a past fellow
-Professional artists who have been continuous residents of Minnesota since March 28, 2023 are eligible to apply. Fellows must maintain residence in Minnesota during the fellowship year (July 1, 2024-June 30, 2025). Fellows must have the legal right to work in the United States.
-The Theater Artist Fellowship is open to actors, directors, dramaturgs, stage managers, and theatrical designers (including puppetry). Artists working in other disciplines of live theater may be eligible to apply—contact Julia at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your specific situation. It is also open to those choreographers and composers whose main body of work is in theater. Playwrights are not eligible for this award. (Playwrights are encouraged to apply for the McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting. Composers, choreographers, visual artists, and other artists whose work is not primarily in theater are encouraged to apply for the McKnight Fellowship in their field.)
-Full time students at any level are not eligible.
-Recipients of 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22, 2022-23, and 2023-24 McKnight Artist and Culture Bearer Fellowships in any discipline are not eligible.
-Previous recipients of the Fellowship must submit a work sample consisting only of work that occurred after their last fellowship term (for example, if you were a fellow in 2009-10, then your work sample must only include work from 2010 or later).
-Only individual artists are eligible; applications from collaborative groups are not accepted.
-Staff and board members of the McKnight Foundation or the Playwrights' Center and their immediate families are not eligible.
-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).
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.
(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. 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, demographic information, and theatrical medium)
-1-page Artist Statement
This statement is an opportunity for the panel to get to know you as an artist beyond the work sample(s) that you submit. This statement should articulate your development as an artist, your approach to your work, and how you collaborate with other artists.
-Resume or Bio (max. 2 pages, any legible format)
-Two Statements of Working Process
These are letters written by two people familiar with your work as an artist. These statements should focus on your process, working relationships with collaborators and co-workers, and other aspects of your work that are not apparent through the work sample(s). You may request statements 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 colleagues time to complete their statements. Statements of working process from previous applications cannot be re-used for this program.
-Work Sample Information Sheet (max. 2 pages, any legible format)
This is where you will indicate the work sample format, work(s) submitted, date of the performance, length of any video/audio, your role in the piece (actor, costume designer, etc.), and any information that you feel would be helpful to the panel when evaluating your work sample. It has been noted by past panelists that including an explanation of why you chose these samples is helpful.
It is helpful to display the breadth of your work through your sample. Do not submit scripts, reviews, essays, or other text formats.
You may submit samples in no more than two of the following formats:
Video - up to 4 total minutes of video, either directly uploaded or linked from YouTube/Vimeo/etc. This footage can be from one or multiple performances. We recommend including your strongest samples in the first 1-2 minutes.
Audio - up to 4 total minutes of audio, either directly uploaded or linked from another site. This footage can be from one or multiple performances. We recommend including your strongest samples in the first 1-2 minutes.
Photographs - up to 10 images.
For directors and dramaturgs: While your work samples are incredibly important, consider providing commentary on why you chose the particular pieces as part of your work sample and what you'd like the panel to focus on.
For designers: Consider providing detailed information about your design process and choices along with your work samples.
Previous recipients of the Fellowship must submit a work sample consisting only of work that occurred after their last fellowship term (for example, if you were a fellow in 2009-10, then your work sample must only include work from 2010 or later).
We strongly recommend that you declare your intent to apply and add performances to the performance calendar beginning in September 2023. Questions may be addressed to Artistic Programs Manager Julia Brown at email@example.com.
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.
Information sessions about the fellowship and introducing the online application will be held online via Zoom. All details will be posted here and emailed to everyone who has declared an intent to apply as soon as they are confirmed.
We held a working session on Monday, January 8, 2024—in partnership with Springboard for the Arts—on the topic of creating successful artist statements. A portion of that session in which we previewed the online application is available to view below.
The application is due Thursday, March 28, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. CT.