Van Lier Fellows Hammaad Chaudry, Monet Hurst-Mendoza and Keelay Gipson.


New Dramatists 2015-16 season featured a number of successes, and continued program evolution, to ensure our work meets the current needs of our resident playwrights.

At the end of the season, New Dramatists deeply mourned the loss of longtime Board member and dear friend, Seth Gelblum.

Information to the right delves into these noteworthy 2015-16 moments:

• New Dramatists' tribute to Seth Gelblum

• A significant bequest gift from Jerry A. Tishman to benefit the Creativity Fund, and new general operating support from the Howard Gilman Foundation

• Further development of our Virtual Home project, designed to provide free virtual desktops and writing software to all residents, supported by the Scherman Foundation’s Katharine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund

• Our receipt of a new round of Van Lier Fellowships, supported by the New York Community Trust’s Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund

• Continued rollout of paperless application processes, which expanded this year to include a paperless Kleban Award application and a paperless Van Lier Fellowship application

• News about new artistic programming


Seth Gelblum with the resident playwrights at the 2013 Annual Spring Luncheon.


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  • Remembering Seth Gelblum

    In August 2016, New Dramatists mourned the loss of Seth Gelblum, our longtime Board Chair, organizational champion, and dear friend. Seth passed away after a long illness.

    "Seth has been New Dramatists’ loyal partner and advocate since 1989," note Emily Morse and Joel Ruark. "It is not an exaggeration to say that nearly three decades of playwrights (and others into the future) have New Dramatists as a resource thanks to Seth’s boundless heart and limitless dedication."

    Throughout his tenure at New Dramatists, Seth was a driving force in our work and a constant reminder that our job is simple: ask playwrights what they need and do our best to provide it…then ask again, to make sure we got it right.

    As part of his legacy of thoughtful leadership, in 2014 Seth led the Board through a succession plan process. In early 2016 the Board designated longtime Board Treasurer David Rosenzweig as its next Chair. The Board unanimously appointed Isobel Konecky the title President Emerita, and named Abbie Van Nostrand the next Board President.

    In September 2016, New Dramatists dedicated its 2016-17 season to Seth Gelblum, at its Playwright Welcome for the incoming class of 2023. We also launched an online tribute page that celebrates Seth’s life and legacy.

    VISIT our online tribute to Seth Gelblum

  • Two New Funders: Jerry A. Tishman & Howard Gilman Foundation

    In 2015, New Dramatists was deeply honored to receive a significant bequest gift from Jerry A. Tishman, which will underwrite annual Creativity Fund programming for the next 15 years.

    This gift is the culmination of nine years’ worth of conversation. In the course of this mutual investigation, Mr. Tishman asked us to define what would be our most important need for the future. This naturally led to discussion of the Creativity Fund. Because it is a high-impact program founded and sustained by several prestigious funders, and it inspired compelling stories from writers about its effectiveness, Mr. Tishman was moved to discuss such a gift. The ensuing years allowed us to demonstrate the value of the program through visits and discussions with writers. After careful consideration, Mr. Tishman committed to this leadership bequest; New Dramatists received its first Tishman bequest payment in December 2015.

    In recognition of Mr. Tishman’s generosity, the Fund has been renamed the Jerry A. Tishman Playwrights’ Creativity Fund.

    Also in FY16, New Dramatists received a new, substantive general operations grant from the Howard Gilman Foundation. With a goal to support robust, innovative and promising arts organizations in New York City, and emphases on supporting the next generation of artists, paying artists a living wage, and organizations that make distinctive contributions to the City’s arts community, the Howard Gilman Foundation grant is a strong endorsement of New Dramatists’ programming and impact.

    We are deeply honored by their support, and grateful for their use of general operating grants. For a place like New Dramatists, general operations support is essential financial underpinning that keeps our organization stable. With this stability, we’re better prepared to respond nimbly and reflexively to our writers’ evolving needs.

    Learn more about Legacy Giving and annual fund donors to New Dramatists on our Contributors page.

  • Update: Virtual Desktops for Playwrights

    Virtual Desktops

  • New Van Lier Fellowships

    In 2016, New Dramatists renewed its longstanding partnership with the Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund with the receipt of a grant to support three New Dramatists Van Lier Fellows. Hammaad Chaudry, Keelay Gipson, and Monet Hurst-Mendoza were selected to receive two-year fellowships (July 2016 – June 2018) that will include $10,000/yr cash grants to each fellow; inclusion in the resident playwright community; formal playwright mentors and meetings; and public presentations of their work.

    This most recent iteration of the New Dramatists’ Van Lier Fellowship followed a three-year hiatus from Van Lier programming. New Dramatists used this time to consider programming changes for future Fellowship cycles, including a more robust outreach phase to encourage a wider pool of Van Lier applications, and a full two-year (rather than 18-month) artistic residency. We achieved both these goals with the current Fellowship, extending the program timeline to allow for two-year residencies, extensive outreach, and the launch of a paperless Van Lier Fellowship application. Our application pool for the 2016-18 Fellowships was four times larger than previous application pools.

    New Dramatists has a highly successful track record with the Van Lier Fellowship program; since 1994, our Van Lier Fellows have gone on to become highly successful writers in the theatre and entertainment industry. A select list of past New Dramatists Van Lier Fellows includes Christina Anderson, Eisa Davis, Kristoffer Diaz, J. Holtham, Jon Kern, Lynn Nottage, Sung Rno, Steven Sapp, Betty Shamieh, and Diana Son, among many others.

    READ THE ONLINE PRESS RELEASE about the reinstated Van Lier Fellowship Program

  • Paperless Applications

    In FY16, New Dramatists continued to roll out and manage new paperless admissions processes.

    FY16 was the first year of the Kleban Award paperless application process. We received universally good user feedback on the system – many who applied stated that the upload technology was easier to use than their own home software to burn CD copies for mail submission. We did, however, experience a 20% dropoff in application numbers in FY16. We attribute this to the Foundation’s move-up of the application deadline, to announce the Award earlier in the spring. While information about the FY16 deadline was disseminated long in advance, there were a number of potential applicants who reported missing the new deadline. Based on the strong positive feedback on the new system, we expect Kleban application numbers to rebound in FY17.

    For our new Van Lier Fellowship round, our online application system (combined with a more robust outreach and notification process) helped us garner a threefold increase in Van Lier fellow applications for our FY17-18 Fellows cycle.

    In the second year of the paperless Princess Grace Award process, applications grew by 19% over the previous year.

    Visit our Awards and Fellowships page to learn more about the various playwright development opportunities we support at New Dramatists.

  • Looking Ahead: New Programming

    As New Dramatists enters its 2016-17 season, some rapid and dramatic developments have grown organically out of the community’s expressed needs. These include:

    • Thanks to a pilot grant from the Howard Gilman Foundation, New Dramatists launched an Opportunity Fund, designed to ensure all our artists are able to participate in extended workshops. This Fund covers extenuating childcare/lifestyle expenses and travel costs that often prevent participation. A related grant from ND alumna Sarah Ruhl and The Lilly Awards Foundation provides reimbursement for childcare expenses for one and two-day work sessions.

    • With a two-year grant from the Venturous Theatre Fund, New Dramatists pilots The Bucket List, a partner program to the Jerry A. Tishman Playwrights Creativity Fund that will support resident writer forays into the creation of two ambitious, larger-scale non-musical projects per year.

    • New Dramatists drafted a new alumni engagement policy, emphasizing resources available to alumni and encouraging more connection between residents and their alumni cohorts.

    • Starting in October 2016, New Dramatists responded to the ongoing needs of west-coast resident writers with organized monthly meetings of residents and alumni at the Samuel French bookshop in West Hollywood. This simple response to the writers’ needs lays the groundwork for further exploration of meaningful west-coast New Dramatists activities. This process will be supported by a generous grant from the Time Warner Foundation.

    These are extraordinary accomplishments, and we are grateful for the partnerships that are making these new developments possible. We are equally grateful for our long-term, general operations funders who provide the underlying support that strengthens our organization and enables our artistic expansion.

    Learn More About New Dramatists' Contributors