THE EDUCATIONAL THEATRE ASSOCIATION’s 2019 Democracyworks essay competition, with funding support from Concord Theatricals, will begin accepting entries on December 1. The winner of the 12th annual competition will receive $1,500 toward expenses to attend the National Arts Action Summit (formerly Arts Advocacy Day) in Washington, D.C., on March 30 and 31, 2020, plus $250 cash.

Students are asked to respond to this question: “How does theatre help bring diverse communities together?”

This year’s prompt was inspired by 2019 EdTA Conference keynote speaker Jane Chu, former chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. She spoke about how theatre helps create a culture where students can feel like they belong to a community that honors different perspectives while simultaneously bringing people together.

“Students want to feel like they belong,” Chu said. “They are looking for meaning, and they want something to touch their hearts. And the quickest avenue to feeling like they belong is through a community that recognizes and respects their identities. That’s something theatre does.”

“Jane Chu eloquently addressed a strength of theatre education,” said James Palmarini, EdTA director of educational policy. “More than ever, theatre programs create a safe-haven community for students, where they can grow and create with diverse peers who share their passion for telling stories through the art of theatre. I think this prompt is an opportunity for our students to examine how theatre helped them define their own identities or perhaps understand someone quite different from themselves.”

Participants from the Educational Theatre Association at the 2019 National Arts Action Summit.
Participants from the Educational Theatre Association at the 2019 National Arts Action Summit. Photo by Katie Ferchen.

EdTA will choose one essay winner based on their response to the prompt. The Arts Action Summit, sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based Americans for the Arts, brings together arts advocates from throughout the country to meet with legislators about a wide range of arts issues, including arts education. The essay competition winner and a chaperone must be available to attend the two-day event. The winning essayist will take part in all scheduled events, including legislative training on current arts issues circulating on Capitol Hill, the Congressional Arts Breakfast, visits to Congress members’ and senators’ offices, and the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Dramatics will publish the winning essay and a photo of the winner. The first runner-up essayist will be awarded $150 and second runner-up $100.

The essay submission deadline is February 1, 2020. To find complete essay guidelines, visit EdTA’s website. Learn more about the Arts Action Summit or register for the event on the Americans for the Arts website.

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