Established by Larson's family following the untimely death of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Rent creator, the mission of the grants is to "commemorate Jonathan's legacy by providing recognition and financial support to up-and-coming creators of musical theatre."
In a statement Allan Larson, father of the late composer and the president of the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation, said, "We are extremely proud that the American Theater Wing has agreed to take on — and hopefully to eventually extend — the work of the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation. Because of the Wing's world-wide recognition as home of the Tony Awards, the establishment of the ATW Jonathan Larson Grants Fund is a major step toward assuring that a much larger group of aspiring theatrical writers and lyricists will always have a place where they can seek recognition."
Ted Chapin, chairman of the board of the American Theatre Wing, added, "All of us at the American Theatre Wing feel very honored that the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation and family have seen fit to entrust us with the future of the Jonathan Larson Grants. In addition to recognizing excellence in theatre through the Tony Awards, the Wing has a long history of supporting theatre professionals at the beginning of their careers, and the Jonathan Larson Grants will add to that mission."
Howard Sherman, executive director of the Wing, also stated, "As we have explored this opportunity over the past year, I have been moved by the Larson family's absolute commitment to providing support and recognition for young musical theatre writers, in order to help them as Jonathan was helped by others during his own evolution as a theatre artist. This is a great responsibility."
Jonathan Larson's dream, according to press notes, "was to infuse musical theatre with a contemporary, joyful, urban vitality. Although he did not live to see it happen, his dream was achieved through the phenomenal success of his musical Rent. The Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation was built with the understanding that without grants that supplemented Jonathan's meager income, Jonathan himself might never had written Rent. . . . A restricted endowment at the Wing will be initially funded through the resources of the JLPAF and the Larson family to insure that the grant program is sustained for successive generations of emerging musical theatre creators." The Wing is currently accepting applications for the 2009 Jonathan Larson Grants; deadline is Nov. 1. For guidelines and application materials, visit www.americantheatrewing.org/larsongrants.