The NEA's Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge Will Be Open to All High School Students | Playbill

Education News The NEA's Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge Will Be Open to All High School Students The National Endowment for the Arts is partnering with the American Theatre Wing in collaboration with Playbill and Disney Theatrical Productions.

The National Endowment for the Arts has expanded its Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge from last year’s three-city pilot to a national program, available to all high school songwriters. Partnering with the NEA is the American Theatre Wing alongside Playbill and Disney Theatrical Productions.

High school songwriters should go to the Songwriting Challenge section of the NEA website between October 2 and January 5, 2018, to enter the competition. Applicants will be asked to submit lyrics and music for an original song that could appear in a musical.

Six regional winners will be selected in February 2018 for a free trip to New York City in April to work with professional musicians, singers, songwriters, and producers during a weekend of workshops. The performance of their song by those musicians and singers will be judged by a panel of musical theatre artists for the final competition, to be streamed live. One of the six will be selected as the national champion; winners will receive scholarships and more.

“This is a great opportunity for the National Endowment for the Arts to honor the creativity of America’s youth,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu in a statement. “The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge is part of that commitment to strengthen our next generations of creative talent; the talent of our future.”

“Now, more than ever, it is important to nurture and support creativity, especially amongst young, emerging artists who might not have access to the arts. I am proud to be partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts, with support from Playbill and Disney Theatrical, on this project. I hope that from this we will see the next generation of Rodgers & Hammersteins, Jonathan Larsons, and Lin-Manuel Mirandas,” added Heather Hitchens, president of the American Theatre Wing.

The American Theatre Wing is working with the NEA to implement the program across the nation and is developing curriculum materials to guide and inspire young songwriters. All materials will be available for free, as they are developed, in the Songwriting Challenge web section. Playbill and Disney Theatrical Productions are program collaborators, providing funding and promotional support.


Angel Rodriguez from Seattle was chosen as the 2016 national champion. Join the songwriting Twitter conversation at #IWriteMusicals.

For information on Playbill's education platforms, visit PLAYBILLder and PlaybillEDU.

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