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Write Your Way to Washington–Democracyworks essay competition now accepting entries

Group of Educational Theatre Association reps standing in front of the capitol
The Educational Theatre Association’s 12th annual Democracyworks essay competition, with funding support from Concord Theatricals, is now accepting entries. The winner will receive $1,500 toward expenses to attend the National Arts Action Summit (formerly Arts Advocacy Day) in Washington, D.C., March 30-31, 2020, plus $250 cash.The prompt for this year’s contest was inspired by 2019 EdTA National Conference keynote speaker Jane Chu, former chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts, who spoke about how theatre helps create a culture where students can feel like they belong to a community that honors different perspectives and while bringing people together at the same time.

Said Chu: “Students want to feel like they belong.  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.”

Bearing in mind Chu’s remarks, students are asked to respond to this question:

How does theatre help bring diverse communities together?

 The submission deadline for essays is February 1, 2020. Complete essay guidelines are available here.

EdTA will choose one essay winner based on his or her response to the prompt. 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.

 “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 then themselves.

The National 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 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 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.

To find out more about the Arts Action Summit and to register, go to the Americans for the Arts website at



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