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Playwrights Horizons Receives $2M Grant From Andrew W. Mellon Foundation


Playwrights Horizons (Tim Sanford, Artistic Director; Leslie Marcus, Managing Director) has announced that the theater company has been awarded a $2 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  

The $2 million grant for Playwrights Horizons is the largest program grant in the theater company’s history.  The grant will help create a fund that will allow the institution to develop new works of musical theater, each in partnership with a Regional theater – wholly within the non-profit system from start to finish.  Spread over seven years, the program aims to commission at least four new works of musical theater and develop and produce three or four full-scale productions.  Each of the three musicals will be produced at both one specific Regional partner and at Playwrights Horizons.

This new program will continue Playwrights Horizons’ long-standing commitment to developing unique and ground-breaking new musicals such as Grey Gardens, James Joyce’s The Dead, Floyd Collins, Assassins, Sunday in the Park with George and the Falsettos trilogy.

“This is the 30th Anniversary of Playwrights Horizons’ musical theater program.  It was the first program of its kind in the United States, and we have been at the forefront of developing new musicals since then.  This grant is an enormous step toward making sure that new musicals – regardless of their commercial potential – can continue to be developed and produced across the country,” said Artistic Director Tim Sanford.  “While producing musicals in partnerships with commercial producers has been fruitful for many institutions, the Mellon Foundation grant will allow us to create partnerships with like-minded institutions across the country without having to rely on support from the commercial world.”

 “A grant of this magnitude and duration will play an invaluable role in Playwrights Horizons’ ongoing commitment to musical theater,” said Managing Director Leslie Marcus. “It will enable us to build a new national model for developing musical theater projects.  We are confident that it will also be a catalyst for securing additional funding from other major institutional and individual donors who support musical theater and who will embrace the notion of a national network of theaters committed to the musical theater form.  We are deeply grateful to the Mellon Foundation for this visionary grant.”

Playwrights Horizons has been a recipient of generous annual support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation since 1997.  In 2000, in partnership with the Doris Duke Charitable Trust, Playwrights Horizons was selected for the Leading National Theaters Program, a short-term joint-initiative of the two foundations.

Playwrights Horizons is supported in part by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate.  In addition, Playwrights Horizons receives major support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, Charina Endowment Fund, The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, The Shubert Foundation and Time Warner Inc.

Playwrights Horizons, under the leadership of Artistic Director Tim Sanford and Managing Director Leslie Marcus, is a writer’s theater dedicated to the support and development of contemporary American playwrights, composers and lyricists, and to the production of their new work.  In its 38 years, Playwrights Horizons has presented the work of more than 375 writers and has received numerous awards and honors, most recently being honored with a special 2008 Drama Desk Award for “ongoing support to generations of theater artists and undiminished commitment to producing new work.”  Notable productions include four Pulitzer Prize winners: Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife (2004 Tony Award, Best Play), Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles (1989 Tony Award, Best Play), Alfred Uhry’s Driving Miss Daisy and Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Sunday in the Park with George, as well as Doug Wright, Scott Frankel and Michael Korie’s Grey Gardens (three 2007 Tony Awards), Adam Rapp’s Kindness, John Dempsey, Michael Friedman and Rinne Groff’s Saved, Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Bruce Norris’s The Pain and the Itch, Lynn Nottage’s Fabulation (2005 Obie Award for Playwriting), Craig Lucas’s Small Tragedy (2004 Obie Award, Best American Play), Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero, Kirsten Childs’s The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey’s James Joyce’s The Dead, William Finn’s March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, Christopher Durang’s Betty’s Summer Vacation and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, Richard Nelson’s Goodnight Children Everywhere and Franny’s Way, Jon Robin Baitz’s The Substance of Fire, Scott McPherson’s Marvin’s Room, A.R. Gurney’s Later Life, Adam Guettel and Tina Landau’s Floyd Collins and Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley’s Violet.  

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is a private philanthropic institution that makes grants in six core program areas: higher education and scholarship, scholarly communications, research in information technology, museums and art conservation, conservation and the environment, and performing arts.  The Foundation’s Performing Arts program currently provides multi-year grants on an invitation-only basis to leading orchestras, theater companies, opera companies, modern dance companies and dance-specific presenters based in the United States.  Although the Foundation does not confine its support to large organizations with national visibility, it does seek to support institutions that contribute to the preservation and development of their art form, provide creative leadership in solving problems or addressing issues unique to their field, and which present the highest level of institutional performance.  Grants are awarded on the basis of artistic merit and leadership in the field, and concentrate on achieving long-term results.  In conjunction with regular program grants, the Foundation also makes a limited number of grants to research and service organizations that are doing work closely related to program goals.  Annual giving in the area of performing arts has averaged $20 million since 2000. In 2004, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was awarded a National Medal of Arts. 

For subscription and ticket information to all Playwrights Horizons productions, call TICKET CENTRAL at (212) 279-4200, Noon to 8 pm daily, or purchase online at the Playwrights Horizons website at

Photo of Leslie Marcus and Tim Sanford by Linda Lenzi

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