AP: An annual $150,000 prize has been established by the foundation of Tony-winning playwright-director Arthur Laurents and partner Tom Hatcher. The Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award will be given for an unproduced, full-length play of social relevance by an emerging American playwright. The prize includes a $50,000 cash award for the selected playwright and a $100,000 grant for production costs of the play’s premiere at a nonprofit theater.
The foundation said Thursday it’s the first major award for playwrighting to be named in honor of a gay couple. The 92-year-old Laurents wrote the books for “Gypsy” and “West Side Story.” Hatcher was Laurents’ partner of 52 years. The actor and real estate developer died in 2006.
Submissions from invited applicants will be accepted June 15 to Sept. 15. The first award recipient will be notified March 15.
According to tax filings, the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation is based in Riverhead, NY and had approximately $5.6 million in assets in 2008.
Laurents’ generosity brings to mind Aaron Copland, who left his copyrights to a foundation that supports American music. The Aaron Copland Fund for Music has been giving grants totaling about $2 million annually for almost 20 years now. In a recent interview, former Copland Fund president John Harbison said that the income flows primarily from just four pieces of music. The late Virgil Thomson, another “bachelor composer” (no direct family heirs), also established a foundation with his will. But his music and writing never had the same kind of popular success as did that of Laurents and Copland.