What is the Dramatists Guild Fund?

Originally appeared in the Sept/Oct 2016 issue of #TheDramatist.

Maybe you read an article in The Dramatist, heard a speech at a Regional event, or were handed information about DGF. You have probably asked yourself “What is the Dramatists Guild Fund, and how is it different from The Guild?”

It can be confusing because DGF and the DG work so closely. While we both serve writers, we work in different ways to make sure you have the resources available to support a career in the theater.

The Dramatists Guild focuses on the rights, specifically copyright, and the business side of writing, while the Dramatists Guild Fund is focused on the life of the writer; supporting you at every stage of your career whether or not you have a show running.

The Dramatists Guild Fund was originally established as a private foundation with two programs: emergency grants to help writers through hard times get back to writing and theater grants to nonprofit theaters, providing writers income and experience in production.

With the direction of our fearless Presidents — Dore Schary, Ruth Goetz, Sheldon Harnick, Gretchen Cryer, and Andrew Lippa — DGF has evolved from humble beginnings to become the organization it is today:

· 1962 — The Dramatists Guild Fund (DGF) is founded by Dramatists Guild President, Alan Jay Lerner, who enlisted Isadore “Dore” Schary to serve as DGF’s first President. Along with Board members Richard Rodgers, Lillian Hellman, Betty Comden, and Sidney Kingsley (among others), DGF’s Board established Theater Grants for and Emergency Grants.
· 1998 — The Madge Evans and Sidney Kingsley Award for Excellence in Theater is created in conjunction with the Kingsley Estate.
· 2007 — The Dramatists Guild Fund begins the five year process of reclassification to a 501©3 public charity, enabling it to expand its reach to better serve the modern writer.
· 2009 — The Legacy Project begins filming with an interview between Joseph Stein and Lin-Manuel Miranda. From the mind of DG Council Member Jonathan Reynolds, this educational documentary series captures legendary dramatists interviewed by their contemporary counterparts. Now used in classrooms across the country, The Legacy Project has a total of three volumes of ten episodes each: Volume I (2009–2011), Volume II (2012–2014), Volume III (2015–2016). Select episodes available on iTunes (2015).
· 2011 — The Traveling Masters program is founded. Through this program, DGF sends prolific dramatists to communities across the country to lead free public events. The goal of the program is to provide free educational programming to students, educators, and writers across the nation who have limited access to arts education.
· 2013 — DGF receives Ellen Stewart Award for Stewardship for providing emergency grants, including $40,000 in emergency aid to nonprofit theaters affected by Superstorm Sandy.
· 2013 — Established partnerships with New York Stage & Film and Rhinebeck Writers Retreat to offer development opportunities to writers from the Fellows Program, with The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center joining in 2016.
· 2015 — The Music Hall is founded through support from Carol Hall, Lynn Ahrens, and Stephen Flaherty, providing a free space for writers. The space is used as a gathering place for readings, workshops, panels, and undisturbed writing time. Since its opening, The Music Hall has hosted over 1,500 writers.
· 2016 — Delta Airlines joins as the Presenting Sponsor of the Traveling Masters Program doubling DGF’s educational events nationwide.

Our work continues. Thanks to you, our fellow writers, and the DGF community across the country, we have expanded to provide six programs (Emergency Grants, Theater Grants, Fellows Program, The Legacy Project, Traveling Masters, The Music Hall) helping writers nationwide to cultivate, establish and maintain careers in the theater.

With your support, we will continue to work every day to ensure that writers of every background, age, and gender can be heard.