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Democracyworks Essay Competition: What’s Your Theatre Story?

Man standing on stage holding a newspaper in the play Smoky Joes

The Educational Theatre Association’s eleventh annual Democracyworks essay competition, co-sponsored by Samuel French, Inc., will begin accepting entries on December 1. The winner will receive $1,500 toward expenses to attend Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., March 4-5, 2019, plus $250 cash.

ITS Democracyworks

This year’s prompt is inspired by the by the 90th anniversary of the International Thespian Society in 2019.  ITS is showcasing the organization’s history—the past, present, and future—with stories from members about how theatre education has made a difference in their lives. The Democracyworks Guidelines explain the prompt this way:

“In this challenging era where access to arts education is at risk, those stories have the power to change the hearts and minds of decision makers and to influence public opinion.

We all have a theatre story to tell—as a student, much of your story has yet to be told. But you are a theatre student and there was a moment, an event, or individual that made you want to be on stage or back stage, or in some other meaningful role that made you feel like what you were doing mattered and that it mattered to others as well.”

 In that spirit, this year’s Democracyworks prompt is, “What’s your theatre story and how has it made a difference in your life?”   

The Educational Theatre Association will choose one essay winner based on his or her response to the prompt. Arts Advocacy Day, sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based Americans for the Arts, brings together arts advocates from throughout the country to meet with legislators on behalf of 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 Arts Advocacy Day 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 submission deadline for essays is February 1, 2019. For the complete essay guidelines go to To find out more about Arts Advocacy Day, visit the Americans for the Arts website.


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