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CUL Kennedy Prize

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the purpose of the prize?

A: The purpose of the prize is to recognize a new play or musical that enlists theater’s power to explore the past of the United States.  The goal is to encourage meaningful participation in the great issues of our day through the public conversation, grounded in historical understanding, which is essential to the functioning of a democracy.


Q: Who is eligible for the prize?

A: Only plays and musicals that have received a commercial or non-profit professional production are eligible. The playwright or credited musical writing team (composer, lyricist, and book writer) must currently reside and must have lived for at least the two previous years in the United States. In this first year of operation only works produced in 2012 were eligible for the Prize. In 2014, works produced in 2012 and 2013 are eligible; in the third year of the Prize and thenceforward, works are eligible for the Prize for the calendar year in which they were first professionally produced and will remain eligible for two calendar years thereafter.


Q: How do I apply for the prize?

A: Applications are not accepted.  Nominations are made annually by a group of twenty nominators, appointed by the Board of Governors.  Their lists are submitted to a panel of judges who will determine the winning play or musical for a given year.


Q: Who are the nominators?

A: The nominators consist of twenty theater professionals appointed by the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors.  The list of nominators is kept confidential but reflects regional, cultural, and aesthetic diversity.


Q: Who are the judges?

A: The judges consist of seven playwrights, musical theater writers, and scholars, appointed annually by the Board of Governors.  The names of the judges are kept confidential until the announcement of the winning work is made.


Q: When is the Prize publically announced?

A: The winning play or musical is announced every February 22, the anniversary of the late Senator Kennedy’s birth.


Q: Who can I contact if I have questions about the prize?

A: All questions and comments should be directed to