The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation are pleased to announce $50,000 grants for the creation and production of major new contemporary plays by young California playwrights.  These new works will be commissioned and premiered by Bay Area performing arts organizations and created by California playwrights of great promise who are age 35 or younger at the time of application.

These grants are part of a three-year $900,000 initiative by the Gerbode and Hewlett Foundations to support Bay Area performing artists and arts organizations at a time when funding has been increasingly difficult to come by.  In 2005 the initiative funded six $50,000 commissions for emerging choreographers. In 2007 the initiative will fund commissions for emerging young composers.  Details on the 2007 commissioning initiative will be announced in spring of 2007.

“For decades, Bay Area theaters have had a great track record for developing and premiering early works by such major dramatists as Sam Shepard, Tony Kushner, and Anna Deavere Smith,” said Gerbode Foundation president Tom Layton. “In this era of diminishing support for individual artists, we hope to give local theater presenters the chance to identify, encourage, and showcase the up-and-coming dramatists of today.”

“The Hewlett Foundation strongly believes in the importance of cultivating new talent, and hopes that the Emerging Playwright Awards will provide needed funding and heightened visibility to young and gifted California theater artists,” said Moy Eng, director of the Performing Arts Program at the Hewlett Foundation.

The 2006 program will grant up to six awards of $50,000 to nonprofit performing arts presenting organizations, including performing arts centers, festivals, community arts facilities, theater producers, and community centers that are based in the counties of San Francisco, Alameda, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Contra Costa, San Mateo, or Santa Clara.

Applications for the 2006 Emerging Playwright Awards are currently available online at Completed applications must arrive at the Gerbode Foundation no later than 4:00 p.m., Thursday, August 24, 2006.  An advisory panel of experts in the field will review the proposals and final selections will be made by the Gerbode Foundation. Grantees will be announced in early January 2007.

For copies of the program guidelines and application, please contact The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, 111 Pine Street, Ste. 1515, San Francisco, CA 94111, 415-391-0911, or visit its website at  

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
For nearly 20 years, The Gerbode Foundation has made innovative grants through its Special Awards Program to San Francisco Bay Area arts institutions to commission new works from gifted individual artists: playwrights (including Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Angels in America”), choreographers (such as Alonzo King and Margaret Jenkins), composers (John Adams, Paul Dresher, and Lou Harrison 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 nonprofit local 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 Hewlett Foundation makes grants to solve some of the most difficult social and environmental problems facing society. The 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 mission is to support artistic expression and its enjoyment through grantmaking aimed at supporting high quality arts organizations.  Since 1966, the Hewlett Foundation has awarded nearly 1,500 grants totaling $135 million to performing arts organizations in the Bay Area.  Both the scale of funding and the singular nature of multiyear general operating support have made the Hewlett Foundation a key investor in the cultural life of the Bay Area.