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NEA and Playbill Launch Songwriting Challenge for High Schoolers

The songwriting competition will give young songwriters in select cities a chance to share their music.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Playbill, Inc. are teaming up to search for the next generation of songwriting talent, with Disney Theatrical Group providing additional support. In its pilot year, the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge will be available to high school students in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.; Dallas County, Tex.; and Seattle and King County, Wash.

Songwriting_NEA“The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge is part of the NEA’s 50th Anniversary efforts to strengthen and highlight the creative development of young people and prepare them for the future,” said NEA chairman Jane Chu in a statement. “The NEA has long been at the forefront of supporting emerging artists, especially in the music discipline, where NEA-supported artists have gone on to receive Grammy nominations and win Grammy Awards, as well as the Pulitzer Prize in music.”

The initiative offers students an opportunity to showcase their songwriting talents and compete for scholarship prizes. Students are asked to submit audio recordings electronically, and three finalists—one from each region—will travel to New York City for an intensive songwriting workshop with professional musicians, singers, songwriters, and producers to sharpen their skills and learn about the industry. The final competition will include a presentation of the original songs, performed by professional musicians and singers.

The winner will receive a scholarship award of $5,000, and each runner-up will receive $2,500. The scholarships are provided by the National Music Publishers’ Association Supporting Our Next Generation of Songwriters (S.O.N.G.S.) Foundation. The national winner’s song will be published by Sony/ATV.

“This challenge, which seeks to discover the next generation of songwriters, will be able to explore untapped talent throughout the United States,” said Philip Birsh, CEO and president of Playbill, Inc., in a statement.

Students can submit a musical theatre song in any style. Applications can be submitted through from Feb. 17 to April 4.

Each city will administer the challenge with local partners, which include Perpich Center for Arts Education in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.; Big Thought in Dallas County, Texas; and the Office of Arts & Culture in Seattle and King County, Wash.

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