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Calling All Seattle and King County High School Students for a Songwriting Challenge

Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and The 5th Avenue Theatre Joins the National Endowment for the Arts and Playbill Inc. to Promote Musical Theater Songwriting

postcard femaleemailHigh school students from Seattle and King County can showcase their songwriting talents and compete for the opportunity to be one of three finalists traveling to New York City in a new songwriting program launching on February 17, 2016: the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students. Interested songwriters can upload their submission to between February 17 and April 4th, 2016.

The Office of Arts & Culture and The 5th Avenue Theatre are working with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Playbill, Inc., with additional support provided by Disney Theatrical Group, to encourage high school students from Seattle to submit a song – the music and lyrics – in any style, from Broadway-style to pop or rock, or Latin to country or rap, as long as it is part of a musical theater story. A winner from Seattle will be selected from among three semi-finalists.

In the summer of 2016, the winner from Seattle will travel to New York City where s/he will take part in an intensive songwriting workshop with professional musicians, singers, songwriters, and producers to learn more about songwriting and sharpen their songwriting skills. At the end of the workshop, their original song will be performed by professional musicians and singers in a final competition with judges from the music and musical theater industry.

The national winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship award, and each national runner-up will receive $2,500. Scholarships are provided by the National Music Publishers’ Association Supporting Our Next Generation of Songwriters (S.O.N.G.S.) Foundation. In addition, the national winner’s song will be published by Sony/ATV. 

“We are thrilled to be one of three pilot cities for the NEA Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge,” says Randy Engstrom, Director, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. “Celebrating 50 years of the NEA with a special program for teens continues the NEA’s tradition of fostering the arts in all its forms across the nation. We are excited to participate and partner with The 5th Avenue Theatre to offer the best experience to our youth.”

We at The 5th Avenue Theatre are incredibly proud to partner with The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for the Seattle Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for 2016,” says Bernie Griffin, Managing Director of The 5th Avenue Theatre.  “The Challenge focuses on musical theater song composition for high school students in Seattle and King County.  This is something we at The 5th know a lot about—we are passionate about musical theater, developing new work, and providing high quality musical theater training for teens at our theater and in local high schools.  As part of this effort, our Education Director Anya Rudnick and our Rising Star Project Director Orlando Morales have initiated a series of songwriting workshops for students in King County interested in musical theater songwriting and entering songs for the Challenge.”

In its pilot year, the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students is only available to high school students in three metropolitan locales: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; Dallas County, TX; and, Seattle and King County, WA. More information on the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students can be found at Follow the conversation about the Songwriting Challenge at #IWriteSongs16. 

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through September 2016.

About Playbill, Inc.

Since its inception in 1884, PLAYBILL has become synonymous with the legitimate theatre and is an internationally known trademark and symbol of the arts. Playbill Magazine, which can be found in theatres and classical arts venues throughout the country, proudly serves every Broadway house as well as the country’s most prestigious fine arts institutions, including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. In 2016 Playbill presses will roll out 3.5 million programs monthly for nearly 100 theatres in 24 cities. was established in 1994, and has since grown to become the leading source of theatre information on the web and has expanded to a suite of online offerings including Playbill Vault, Playbill EDU, Playbillder, and more. Visit for more information.

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Office of Arts & Culture | Seattle The Office of Arts & Culture envisions a city driven by creativity that provides the opportunity for everyone to engage in diverse arts and cultural experiences. The Office is supported by the 16-member Seattle Arts Commission, citizen volunteers appointed by the mayor and City Council. Find out more at