SAN FRANCISCO and MENLO PARK, Calif.— The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation are pleased to announce a $300,000 fund for the creation and production of new plays by California playwrights. The works are to be commissioned and premiered by Bay Area nonprofit organizations that can apply for grants of $50,000 each. 

These grants will support projects that encourage the creative endeavors and professional development of promising California playwrights. The resulting works will have their world premieres in Bay Area public performances between June 2013 and June 2015. 

Proposed commissions in any genre will be accepted. Applicant organizations must be nonprofit and based in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, or Sonoma.

These playwright awards are part of a three-year $900,000 initiative by the Gerbode and Hewlett foundations to support the commissioning of individual artists and to invest in their relevant creations.  In 2011, grants were made for choreographer commissions. The program for 2013 will be announced next year.

“The Bay Area has always been a hot bed of theatrical creativity,” said Thomas Layton, president of the Gerbode Foundation.  “This fund helps capitalize a plurality of expression and bring to scale production partnerships between California playwrights and Bay Area producing organizations.”

John E. McGuirk, director of the Hewlett Foundation’s Performing Arts Program, added, “Diverse communities will benefit from these commissions. The playwrights are supported in the creative process, local performing arts organizations showcase new works, and Bay Area communities get to see the debut of new plays. It adds real vitality to the region’s performing arts scene.”

Applications for the 2012 Playwright Commissioning Awards are available online at Completed applications must be submitted to the Gerbode Foundation no later than 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 30, 2012. An advisory panel of theater experts from across the United States will review all the proposals, and final selections will be made by the Gerbode Foundation. Grantees will be announced in January 2013.

For questions regarding the program guidelines and application, please contact the Gerbode Foundation’s Manager of Special Awards, Olivia Malabuyo Tablante, 111 Pine Street, Suite 1515, San Francisco, CA 94111; 415-391-0911;

About The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation

The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation is interested in programs and projects offering potential for significant impact. The primary geographical focus is on the San Francisco Bay Area and Hawaii. The Foundation’s interests generally fall under the categories of arts and culture, environment, population, reproductive rights, citizen participation, building communities, inclusiveness, strength of the philanthropic process and the nonprofit sector, and Foundation-initiated special projects.

About the Special Awards Program

Since 1987, the Gerbode Foundation has made innovative grants through its Special Awards Program to San Francisco Bay Area arts institutions to commission new works by gifted individual artists: playwrights (including Tony Kushner, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Angels in America”), choreographers (such as Alonzo King and Alleluia Panis), composers (John Adams, Carla Kihlstedt, and Marcus Shelby among them), as well as visual artists, poets, and multi-media artists.

In a time of cultural shifts and fiscal insecurity in the arts, these coveted, nationally respected awards have helped underwrite culturally and aesthetically diverse, acclaimed new works by prominent artists and artists who are up-and-coming. The grants have supported artists at critical junctures in their careers, enabled local nonprofit arts organizations to develop and premiere substantial new works, and enriched Bay Area audiences, readers, and viewers by giving them first access to ambitious, original creations.

About The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1967 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, the environment, global development and population, performing arts, and philanthropy, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. A full list of all the Hewlett Foundation’s grants can be found here on its website.

The Foundation’s Performing Arts Program is founded on the premise that the experience, understanding, and appreciation of artistic expression give value, meaning, and enjoyment to people’s lives. Its goals are to ensure that exceptional works of art are created, performed, and preserved, and to provide more opportunities for participation in arts experiences. The Program supports artistic expression and its enjoyment through grantmaking to a wide range of high-quality arts organizations in one of the most culturally diverse regions in the country. The Hewlett Foundation currently supports more than 200 organizations throughout the Bay Area. Both the scale of funding and the singular nature of multi-year general operating support have made the Hewlett Foundation a key investor in the cultural life of the Bay Area.

Thomas C. Layton, President
Gerbode Foundation

John E. McGuirk, Director, Performing Arts Program
Hewlett Foundation