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Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge

Deadline: April 30, 2019


The National Endowment for the Arts
and the American Theatre Wing
Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge

The National Endowment for the Arts and the American Theatre Wing are looking for emerging songwriting stars for the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge. This national competition is open to high school students who have a passion for writing songs that could be part of a musical theater production. Musical theater encompasses a wide range of musical styles including hip-hop, rock, R&B, country, jazz, and more.

This year marks the second national competition with applications accepted now until April 30, 2019 at midnight ET. So send in your song today by going to the application portal

  • April 30th, 2019 – Deadline to apply!
  • June 2019 – Regional finalist selections made by expert panel
  • July 2019 - Finalists paired with mentors
  • July - September 2019 - Finalists and mentors workshop and develop songs
  • October 2019 - Finalists' songs professionally recorded in NYC

Joining the Arts Endowment and the American Theatre Wing for this second year are Disney Theatrical Productions and Samuel French. For more information, read this press release.

The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge began as a pilot program in 2016 in three cities (Dallas, TX; Minneapolis, MN, Seattle, WA) before going national in 2017/2018. Playbill was a key partner in developing the pilot program and assisting with the inaugural national competition.

With students from across the country able to enter the competition, almost 200 students from 36 states submitted an application in 2018. Those were reviewed by panels of professional theater artists in a blind competition with one duo and five individuals selected as finalists. Professional theater artists also worked as mentors and music directors with each of the six finalists, helping them refine and orchestrate their songs during a weekend workshop in New York City. The final competition took place in April before a live and webcast audience.

You can see the full final competition on the national competition page. Clips featuring performances of the finalists' songs are on the performances page.

In addition to the collaborators mentioned above, the Arts Endowment was proud to have the National Music Publishers Association and their S.O.N.G.S. Foundation, BMI, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation as part of the 2018 Songwriting Challenge team.

The National Endowment for the Arts

400 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20506

(202) 682-5400