The NEA's New Play Development Program will aid non-profit theatres in taking new plays to the next level of production. "A full production is really the only way a playwright and his or her audience can fully experience a play in the way it was intended to be experienced," stated Bill O'Brien, NEA director of Theater and Musical Theater.
The program will select seven plays from across the country to receive developmental grants. Two of the projects selected for the "Outstanding New American Plays" will receive up to $90,000 each to support their advanced development and at least one full production, according to the NEA.
The five remaining projects considered "Distinguished New Play Development Projects" are granted up to $20,000 each in order to foster their early development with strong potential for full production.
The NEA will work in close collaboration with the selected playwrights to develop the new works. As the hub of the program – the Arena Stage, under the guidance of producing artistic associate David Dower – will explore current and new models for play production and development.
Previously, the NEA supported new play development through the Theatre Communications Group Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights. This program, which fostered the sharing of information between theatrical institutions and resident playwrights, expires in 2009. The guidelines for the NEA's New Play Development Program will be available in late spring of 2008, with participating projects announced the following fall. The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency supporting American art. It is the nation's largest annual funder of the arts.