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En Garde Arts Launches Joan D. Firestone Commissioning Fund

The award will recognize a mid-career theatre artist engaged in social change through the arts with an unrestricted $18,000 prize.

NEW YORK CITY: En Garde Arts has announced the creation of the Joan D. Firestone Commissioning Fund. Named in honor of the longtime En Garde Arts chairperson and board member, the award will recognize one mid-career theatre artist who is engaged in social change through the arts with an unrestricted $18,000 prize. En Garde Arts has raised a total of $100,000 through a group of generous donors and plans to recognize one mid-career artist every year for five years.

“I truly believe that if it weren’t for the incredible philanthropic abilities of Joan D. Firestone, En Garde Arts wouldn’t exist today,” said En Garde artistic director Anne Hamburger in a statement. “In addition to her fierce determination to support the arts in any way she can, she is above all an extraordinary human being and I am honored to launch this fund in her name.”

“Joan has been a nurturing voice and unbelievable champion of artists for decades,” added two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage in a statement. “I’ve long admired her generosity and genuine commitment to supporting theatre artists who are making work that is socially engaged, complex, and endeavors to have a meaningful dialogue with audiences.”

En Garde Arts will hold the first public developmental reading of the new work/work-in-progress within one year to 18 months from the original commission date. The theatre will hold no rights to future productions of the commissioned work. The nominating committee includes Kim Bendheim, Linda Chapman, Joan D. Firestone, David Henry Hwang, Lynn Nottage and Anne Hamburger. Consideration for the award is offered by invitation only and the prize will be presented by Lynn Nottage and David Henry Hwang at the En Garde Arts Gala on Thurs. Dec. 8 at Ideal Glass Studios.

“Joan Firestone has devoted her life to supporting artists and making the arts in America more innovative, inclusive, and excellent,” said Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang in a statement. “She has inspired me throughout my career and this groundbreaking new Fund is a fitting tribute to her transformative impact.”

The theme for this year’s gala is Artists honoring Artists. En Garde Arts is honoring
award-winning playwright, author, essayist, and professor Sarah Ruhl along with the founder
and former artistic director of the Lark, John Clinton Eisner.

En Garde Arts is a not-for-profit theatre company based in NYC that aims to create, produce, and
present bold theatre experiences that reach across artistic, physical, and social boundaries. As of 2020, En Garde Arts had an approximate budget of $545,000.

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