Search for Next Generation Songwriters Launches in Three Cities!

Application Opens for the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students on Feb. 17
The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge
On May 31, 2015, Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) visited the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit where students performed a musical theater piece. The NEA support’s Mosaic’s Core Training Program, a multi-phase, theater-based, performing arts program for youth. - Photographer Kristen Hagan
Washington, DC – As we witness a watershed moment for music and musical theater in the United States – think Hamilton, High School Musical, Glee, and Pitch Perfect – the National Endowment for the Arts and Playbill, Inc. are joining forces, with additional support provided by Disney Theatrical Group, to highlight and nurture the next generation of songwriting talent. “The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge is part of the NEA’s 50th Anniversary efforts to strengthen and highlight the creative development of young people and prepare them for the future,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The NEA has long been at the forefront of supporting emerging artists, especially in the music discipline, where NEA-supported artists have gone on to receive Grammy nominations and win Grammy Awards, as well as the Pulitzer Prize in Music.” In its pilot year, The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge will be available to high school students who live in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; Dallas County, TX; and, Seattle and King County, WA. The initiative offers students the chance to showcase their songwriting talents and compete to be one of three finalists traveling to New York City. In New York, the national finalists will take part in an intensive songwriting workshop with professional musicians, singers, songwriters, and producers to learn about the business and hone their songwriting skills.  They will also have professional musicians and singers perform their original songs as part of the final competition with judges from the music and musical theater industry. The national winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship award, and each national runner-up will receive $2,500. Scholarships are provided by the National Music Publishers’ Association Supporting Our Next Generation of Songwriters (S.O.N.G.S.) Foundation.  In addition, the national winner’s song will be published by Sony/ATV. "Playbill, Inc. is thrilled to partner will the National Endowment for the Arts to produce the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students. This Challenge, which seeks to discover the next generation of songwriters, will be able to explore untapped talent throughout the United States,” said Philip Birsh, CEO and President of Playbill, Inc. “The Songwriting Challenge will give students the chance to be mentored by some of the most decorated and prestigious composers currently working on Broadway today. Playbill, Inc. is as dedicated to celebrating the songwriters of today as they are helping create the Broadway artists of tomorrow." High school students are invited to submit a song in any style – rock, pop, rap, Latin, gospel, country, world, etc. – as long as it is part of a musical theater story. Applications can be submitted through between February 17 and April 4, 2016. Local partners in each city will administer the Songwriting Challenge; they include: Perpich Center for Arts Education in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; Big Thought in Dallas County, TX; and the Office of Arts & Culture in Seattle and King County, WA. More information on The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students can be found at Follow the conversation about the Songwriting Challenge on Twitter at #IWriteSongs16. About the National Endowment for the Arts Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through September 2016. About Playbill, Inc. Since its inception in 1884, PLAYBILL has become synonymous with the legitimate theatre and is an internationally known trademark and symbol of the arts. Playbill Magazine, which can be found in theatres and classical arts venues throughout the country, proudly serves every Broadway house as well as the country’s most prestigious fine arts institutions, including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. In 2016 Playbill presses will roll out 3.5 million programs monthly for nearly 100 theatres in 24 cities. was established in 1994, and has since grown to become the leading source of theatre information on the web and has expanded to a suite of online offerings including Playbill Vault, Playbill EDU, Playbillder, and more. Visit for more information.


The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge
The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge
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NEA Public Affairs Judith Kargbo (NEA),, 202-682-5528