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2021 Democracyworks Student Essay Competition Now Open

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Has theatre been a lifeline for your students during COVID? Encourage them to enter EdTA’s 12th annual Democracyworks essay competition, designed to support and grow student advocacy for arts education. The winner will receive a $250 cash award, a pass to attend Americans for the Arts’ virtual National Arts Action Summit, and publication of his or her winning essay on, EdTA’s student website.

All Thespians and Junior Thespians (must be inducted by March 1) are eligible. The deadline to submit essays is February 7.

This year’s competition ties into current events, along with EdTA’s participation in the national advocacy campaign Arts ARE Education, which emphasizes the need for schools to keep funding and growing arts programs next school year. Among other themes, the campaign stresses the ways theatre education creates safe and nurturing spaces for students; in keeping with that theme, the Democracyworks prompt asks students to answer: How does theatre support your social and emotional well-being and foster a welcoming school environment? 

“We all know we are living in an era where a lack of civility and respectful discussion seems to have invaded every aspect of our lives, public and private,” EdTA Policy and Advocacy Advisor Jim Palmarini said. “Those of us who work in theatre and other arts also know that they can be a safe space, particularly for students, where different ideas and perspectives are welcome as an opportunity to learn and grow.”

The competition winner must be available to attend the Arts Action Summit April 5-9, where that student will develop advocacy skills through legislative training on current arts issues circulating on Capitol Hill and virtual visits to Congress members’ and senators’ offices.


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