Washington, DC—High school students have the chance to win a music publishing deal and $25,000 scholarship as part of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge. The NEA confirmed details of the competition’s prizes; all six finalists will get their song published by Samuel French, and the national champion will also win a $25,000 scholarship.

As announced in September 2017, high school students from across the country can submit an original song that could appear in a musical theater show. (Note that the application deadline is January 5, 2018. Go here to apply.) Six finalists will be chosen in February 2018 for a trip to New York City, and then in April will participate in an intense weekend of workshops with professional musicians, singers, songwriters, and producers.

During the weekend, the songs are transcribed for an ensemble and singers, and are performed before a panel of professionals who judge the songs in a final competition. (This video shows the process.) In addition to the opportunity for one-on-one mentoring while in New York City, Samuel French, the world’s leading publisher and licensor of plays and musicals, will publish the finalists’ songs in a collection book that will be available on their website.

“American musical theatre continues to thrive because of the emergence of exciting new voices and visions,” said Samuel French CEO Nathan Collins. “Samuel French is delighted to encourage more young artists to bring their talents to the musical theatre world and expand the creative possibilities of this American art form.”

One of the finalists will be selected as the national champion and will receive a $25,000 scholarship courtesy of the National Music Publishers Association S.O.N.G.S. Foundation (Supporting Our Next Generation of Songwriters).

NMPA S.O.N.G.S. Foundation President David Israelite said, “Gifted songwriters often need financial support to hone their craft and succeed in an incredibly challenging time for creators. This is a fantastic competition and the NMPA S.O.N.G.S. Foundation is proud to award young minds who are the future of the industry. We consider it a privilege to invest in their potential.”

The Songwriting Challenge is presented by the NEA in partnership with the American Theatre Wing along with collaborators Playbill, Inc. and Disney Theatrical Productions. The NEA and the American Theatre Wing have created content to help guide and inspire young songwriters. Join the songwriting Twitter conversation at #IWriteMusicals.

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. Visit arts.gov to learn more about NEA.

About Samuel French
Samuel French is the world’s leading publisher and licensor of plays and musicals. The company’s catalog features some of the most acclaimed work ever written for the stage and titles by writers at the forefront of contemporary drama. Samuel French is proud to serve as a leader in theatrical publishing and licensing, and is committed to the future by championing playwrights, innovating the industry, and celebrating all those who make theatre happen around the world.

About the NMPA S.O.N.G.S. Foundation
Launched in 2015, the NMPA SONGS Foundation promotes the creation of music by supporting gifted songwriters and programs that foster composition education. The Foundation’s goal is to provide financial assistance and support of educational programs to assist talented writers to ensure they can continue their creativity. It is a 501(c)3 corporation. For more information, go to the SONGS Foundation website.


This article is a reprint and was originally published on the National Endowment for the Arts website on December 6th, 2017.

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