Anne Hamilton/Hamilton Dramaturgy


NNPN Receives Grant

Here is news that will change the way dramaturgs and literary managers function within the next five years.

NNPN Receives Cornerstone Funding for Web-based “New Play Exchange”: $110K Award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

WASHINGTON, DC – The NATIONAL NEW PLAY NETWORK (NNPN), the country’s alliance of non-profit theaters that champions the development, production, and continued life of new plays, proudly announces a two-year $110,000 award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to support the design, development and pilot of a web-based tool, the “New Play Exchange”.  Combining crowd-sourced recommendations, social media functions and a script database, the New Play Exchange will revolutionize the way playwrights and theaters connect in the nonprofit arena.  A consortium of six nonprofit organizations, led by NNPN, aim to launch the tool to the field in 2015.

“In a grant competition round which resulted in a record-breaking number of applications, the NNPN project distinguished itself as an innovative solution to an ongoing field challenge,” said Ben Cameron, Program Director for the Arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. “The New Play Exchange has enormous potential, not only for the members of the network but for the larger field as well, and we at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation are honored to support it.”

“The engine driving the success of the New Play Exchange is the active engagement of our five visionary partner organizations,” said Jason Loewith, NNPN’s Executive Director.  “We modeled the consortium on the Network’s core values:  a passion for new plays, a passion for collaboration, and a passion for playwrights.”  The partners are Chicago Dramatists, New Dramatists, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, the Playwrights’ Center, and the Playwrights’ Foundation.

ABOUT THE NEW PLAY EXCHANGE

Drawing on NNPN’s history of crowd-sourced literary management leading to multiple productions, the New Play Exchange will combine a script database, crowd-sourced recommendations, and the interactivity of a social networking site to change the way literary departments and playwrights function field-wide.

Database.  The Exchange will have two portals – one for readers and one for playwrights – accessing the same central database.  Playwrights will create profile pages where they may upload scripts or synopses, provide sample pages, links to their own sites, reviews of their work, and other details.  Theaters, Literary Managers, and Dramaturgs will create reader profiles.  Uploaded scripts will be classified across a variety of rubrics such as genre, cast size, playwright identity or region, and keywords.   Theaters will be similarly classified, and the entire database will be easily searchable.

Crowd-Sourced Recommendations.  The power of the Exchange springs from crowd-sourcing script recommendations.  Users will receive play recommendations from readers, and those recommendations can be filtered according to who’s giving them.   For example, a user may create a “trusted readers” list of mission-aligned friends or mission-aligned theaters, and be immediately notified when one of those trusted readers has recommended a script… and of course, by clicking a button, that user can either obtain the script or contact information for the playwright.  By privileging recommendations (instead of ratings or reviews), the Exchange creates virtual networks of positivity surrounding plays and playwrights of promise.

Interactivity.  The Exchange will learn from systems like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest about mechanisms that keep people engaged and involved.  For example, Facebook’s “news feed” may have a valuable analog in a feature that shows when new scripts have been uploaded by favorite playwrights or produced by favorite theaters.  The feed might notify users about new reviews of scripts they’ve tagged to follow, or other milestones like productions and awards.  Readers might be able to flag scripts, requesting a private “second opinion” from trusted friends.  Playwrights would similarly see notifications that their scripts have been recommended, or if another playwright has posted a script that matches some of their criteria.

DEVELOPMENT AND DEPLOYMENT OF THE EXCHANGE

A Core Development Committee composed of consortium partner constituents will meet with playwrights, artistic directors, literary managers and dramaturgs in seven cities over the next eight months to gather feedback about evolving plans for the Exchange.  That Committee process will feed into web design, with deployment of the pilot site to consortium constituents through 2014.  NNPN hopes to open the New Play Exchange field-wide in 2015.

ABOUT THE DORIS DUKE CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

The mission of the Doris duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and the prevention of child abuse, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties.  Visit www.ddcf.org for more information.

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