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A Commitment To Playwrights: The Tow Foundation’s 2014 Residency Program

Originally posted on the HowlRound blog.

What are two essential elements to creating a transformational experience for an up-and-coming playwright?

  1. A full time salary and health insurance
  2. The guarantee of having a work produced by a major off-Broadway non-profit theater

This is the conclusion the staff and board of The Tow Foundation have reached after a year spent researching the best ways to create opportunities for young American playwrights and help facilitate their New York debuts. In mid-2012, following the opening of the Claire Tow Theater at Lincoln Center Theater, Leonard Tow, Chairman of The Tow Foundation, pondered how the Foundation could support American playwrights who have not yet had the opportunity to have their work produced by a major off-Broadway theater. As the Foundation began to look more closely at the economics of the playwriting life, several patterns became apparent. We discovered that there are many great programs that offer playwrights the opportunity to workshop productions and receive commissions to write new plays—but few of these workshops lead to actual productions in an off-Broadway or Broadway theater. And the commission funds don’t come close to what is needed to be able to live and write in New York…

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