After participating in conversations with health insurance experts and leaders in the artistic and legal communities, as well as the insurance field, the Off-Broadway theatre company will offset a portion of the monthly premiums of health insurance costs for all writers in its 2014-15 season. They state that the research "resulted in a bottom-line determination that the most effective way to help writers at this time is to subsidize their healthcare costs directly."
"Playwrights Horizons believes that it is the first theatre company in the country to provide this support for all their writers — in addition to those who receive health care through residency programs — for the entire season in which they are produced," press notes state.
In addition to contributing to their healthcare costs, Playwrights Horizons will pay writers for their rehearsal and pre-production time, becoming the first theatre to compensate its playwrights for their multi-week pre-production efforts. During this time, writers are heavily engaged in such activities as auditions, casting, readings and creative meetings.
"A national conversation is under way about how better to support theatre writers, and we, as an industry, have begun to respond," Playwrights Horizons artistic director Tim Sanford said in a statement. "Over the last five years, several foundations have underwritten generous playwriting residencies for theatres throughout the country that provide health care. It has been our goal to provide healthcare to all of our writers, not just the lucky few who are awarded these residencies. In the same way Playwrights Horizons seeks to provide a model for the development and production of new American writing, we are proud to lead the way by providing new material forms of support for writers as well. We hope and believe that providing this additional compensation will have a significant impact on our writers' livelihoods and mark a new era for us and our support of playwrights."
"These new initiatives from Playwrights Horizons are at once revolutionary and self-evident," Playwrights Horizons alumnus writer Samuel D. Hunter, whose play The Whale had its New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons in 2012 and his new play Pocatello is currently in rehearsals at the theatre company, added. "Playwrights normally rely entirely on royalties for payment, which are unpredictable and often dependent on reviews. By acknowledging writers in this way, Playwrights Horizons is helping to sustain them in the same way that they sustain their actors, directors, designers and staff. I truly hope that these initiatives become models for theatres across the country." These steps grew out of a strategic planning process undertaken by the staff and the Playwrights Horizons Board of Trustees to enhance and expand artistic opportunities and develop a host of ways to better serve the American writer.
Visit playwrightshorizons.org for more information.