McKnight Theater Artist Fellowships

McKnight Artist Fellowships

The McKnight Foundation, a family foundation based in Minnesota, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive. The McKnight Theater Artist Fellowships at the Playwrights’ Center recognize theater artists other than playwrights. The intent of the program is to recognize and support mid-career artists living and working in Minnesota who demonstrate a sustained level of accomplishment, commitment, and artistic excellence. The $25,000 fellowships are intended to significantly advance recipients’ art and careers.

NOTE: Advance notification of intent to apply is strongly encouraged (but not required). Panelists attend performances to help familiarize themselves with applicants' work, so it is very important to declare your intent to apply and inform the Playwrights’ Center where and when your performances take place. You may notify the Center of intent to apply any time before the final application deadline. (You may submit a final application without notifying the Center in advance; however, by providing no notice of your intent to apply, you are limiting panelists’ ability to view your work in a live setting.)

Special note for the 2021-22 application cycle: We are very aware that the majority of theater artists in Minnesota have lost opportunities for live performance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that restrictions on public gathering will continue throughout this application cycle. We do still want to offer the chance to submit an intent to apply for this fellowship to be sure that you are invited to information sessions and so that you can let us know about work that you are doing on a digital/distanced platform.

We are hoping to help artists apply for this fellowship in a few new ways this year, including:
-increasing the permitted length of the work sample. You will be able to submit up to two of the following formats: up to 6 minutes of audio, up to 6 minutes of video, and up to 15 images
-providing two information sessions about the fellowship
-providing two information sessions focused on writing artistic statements, in partnership with Springboard for the Arts
-producing an information session focused on creating a digital work sample, in partnership with Springboard for the Arts.

We will let you know when these special sessions are scheduled. This is another reason to submit an intent to apply—everyone on that list will be notified about all special working and information sessions.

Please note that the selection panel will be considering any work from this year along with past work and weighing all equally - if you do not have any work happening this year, that will NOT count against you in any way.

As always, the artistic staff is available for any questions you might have or assistance you might need in putting together your application. If you are a previous applicant who has not requested feedback on your last application, feel free to do so by emailing

Selection is based on a commitment to theater arts, evidence of professional achievement, and a sustained level of excellence in the applicant's work. The 2021-22 fellowship term is July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022. Recent recipients include: Sarah Agnew, Ansa Akyea, Barry Browning, Bart Buch, Shá Cage, Sun Mee Chomet, James Craven, Marcus Dilliard, Scott W. Edwards, Katharine Horowitz, Masanari Kawahara, Kurt Kwan, Elise Langer, Jim Lichtscheidl, Christopher Lutter-Gardella, Greta Oglesby, Sonja Parks, Denise Prosek, Joel Sass, Kate Sutton-Johnson, Michael Wangen, James A. Williams, Stephen Yoakam, Mathew LeFebvre, Austene Van, Abbee Warmboe, Talvin Wilks, and Sally Wingert.

"Even though I had confidence in myself as an artist before, the award helped validate me and my past work. It elevated my status around the table and gave me the confidence to reach out to other artists in the community that I placed high on a pedestal. Thanks to my fellowship, I was able to have a comfortable year, where my main focus wasn’t looking for any possible way to make a living and piece together work that has nothing to do with my career. I was able to concentrate on my craft, and accept work based on interest and not pay."
– Elise Langer
McKnight Theater Artist Fellow, 2018-19

Important Links


-Professional artists who have been continuous residents of Minnesota since April 15, 2020 are eligible to apply. Fellows must maintain residence in Minnesota during the fellowship year (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022). Fellows must have the legal right to work in the United States.

-The Theater Artist Fellowship is open to actors, directors, dramaturgs, stage managers, and theatrical designers (including puppetry). It is also open to those choreographers and composers whose main body of work is in theater. Playwrights are not eligible for this award. (Playwrights are encouraged to apply for the McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting. Composers, choreographers, visual artists, and other artists whose work is not primarily in theater are encouraged to apply for the McKnight Fellowship in their field.)

-Full time students at any level are not eligible.

-Recipients of 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21 McKnight Artist Fellowships in any discipline are not eligible.

-Only individual artists are eligible; applications from collaborative groups are not accepted.

-Staff and board members of the McKnight Foundation or the Playwrights' Center or their immediate families are not eligible.

-Applicants may only apply for one McKnight Artist Fellowship each year in any discipline.

The Application

Each application will contain the following pieces:

-Application Form (including contact details and theatrical medium)

-1-page Artists Statement
This statement is an opportunity for the panel to get to know you as an artist beyond the work sample(s) that you submit. This statement should articulate your development as an artist, your approach to your work, and how you collaborate with other artists.

-Resume or Bio (max. 2 pages)

-Two Statements of Working Process
These are letters written by two people familiar with your work. These statements should focus on your process, working relaaitonships with collaborators and co-workers, and other aspects of your work that are not apparent through the work sample(s).

-Work Sample Information Sheet (max. 2 pages)
This is where you will indicate the work sample format, work(s) submitted, date of the performance, length of any video/audio, your role in the piece (actor, costume designer, etc.), and any information that you feel would be helpful to the panel when evaluating your work sample. It has been noted by past panelists that including an expanation of why you chose these samples is helpful.

-Work Sample(s)
It is helpful to display the breadth of your work through your sample. Do not submit scripts, reviews, or other text formats. 
You may submit samples in no more than two of the following formats:

  • Video - up to 6 minutes of video, either directly uploaded or linked from YouTube/Vimeo/etc. This footage can be from one or multiple performances. We recommend including your strongest samples in the first 1-2 minutes.
  • Audio - up to 6 total minutes of audio, either directly uploaded or linked from another site. This footage can be from one or multiple performances. We recommend including your strongest samples in the first 1-2 minutes.
  • Photographs - up to 15 images.

For directors and dramaturgs: While your work samples are incredibly important, consider providing commentary on why you chose the particular pieces as part of your work sample and what you'd like the panel to focus on.

For designers: Consider providing detailed information about your design process and choices along with your work samples. 

We strongly recommend that you declare your intent to apply and add performances to the performance calendar beginning in October 2020. Questions may be addressed to Artistic Programs Manager Julia Brown at

Information sessions about the fellowship and introducing the online application will be held online via Zoom. All details will be posted here and emailed to everyone who has declared an intent to apply as soon as they are confirmed.

Note: You will need to make a SlideRoom account in order to apply. If you are a Playwrights' Center member, your PWC login will not automatically log you in to SlideRoom—they are two different systems. If you already have a SlideRoom account, you should be able to access the application using your existing login.


April 15, 2021
McKnight Theater Artist Fellow
McKnight Theater Artist Fellow
McKnight Theater Artist Fellow