Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Jonathan Larson: Still Dead, But Grants, Via the American Theatre Wing, Live On


Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation and the Larson Family Entrust 12-Year-Old Program to ATW Beginning with 2009 Honors

Now Accepting Grant Applications for Deadline of November 1

The American Theatre Wing and the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation (JLPAF) announced today that beginning immediately, the Wing will be the new home for The Jonathan Larson Grants.

The Larson family originally established JLPAF following the untimely death of Jonathan Larson on the eve of the worldwide success of his musical Rent. Its mission was to commemorate Jonathan’s legacy by providing recognition and financial support to up-and-coming creators of musical theatre. A restricted endowment at the Wing will be initially funded through the resources of the JLPAF and the Larson family to insure that the grant program is sustained for successive generations of emerging musical theatre creators.

The American Theatre Wing is accepting applications for the 2009 Jonathan Larson Grants now until November 1. For complete guidelines and application materials, visit

“We are extremely proud that the American Theater Wing has agreed to take on—and hopefully to eventually extend—the work of the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation,” said Allan Larson, president of the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation. “Because of the Wing's world-wide recognition as home of the Tony Awards, the establishment of the ATW Jonathan Larson Grants Fund is a major step toward assuring that a much larger group of aspiring theatrical writers and lyricists will always have a place where they can seek recognition.”

“All of us at the American Theatre Wing feel very honored that the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation and family have seen fit to entrust us with the future of the Jonathan Larson Grants,” said Ted Chapin, Chairman of the Board of the American Theatre Wing. “In addition to recognizing excellence in theater through the Tony Awards, the Wing has a long history of supporting theatre professionals at the beginning of their careers, and the Jonathan Larson Grants will add to that mission.”

“As we have explored this opportunity over the past year, I have been moved by the Larson family’s absolute commitment to providing support and recognition for young musical theatre writers, in order to help them as Jonathan was helped by others during his own evolution as a theatre artist,” says Howard Sherman, Executive Director of the Wing. “This is a great responsibility.”

Jonathan Larson’s dream was to infuse musical theatre with a contemporary, joyful, urban vitality. Although he did not live to see it happen, his dream was achieved through the phenomenal success of his musical Rent. The Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation was built with the understanding that without grants that supplemented Jonathan’s meager income, Jonathan himself might never had written Rent. The grants program was established 12 years ago as a place for individual creative theatre artists to turn to for help and to provide financial support and encouragement. JLPAF has recognized and supported more than seventy-five composers, lyricists, and bookwriters at the start of their careers. In 2008, the foundation awarded grants to Gaby Alter, Susan DiLallo, Jordan Mann & Jeff Thomson, Joel New, and Jason Rhyne, as well as City Theatre in Pittsburgh. Other past recipients include Nell Benjamin, John Bucchino, Kirsten Childs, Ricky Ian Gordon, Amanda Green, and Michael Korie.

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