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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional

Playwrights Festival Gets $300,000 Grant

January 14, 2000

COSTA MESA — The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has given South Coast Repertory $300,000 over the next three years to continue the Pacific Playwrights Festival, an annual late-spring event designed as a launching pad for new plays.

The playwrights festival will have its third run this June at the Costa Mesa theater. The Mellon Foundation helped underwrite the first two festivals with a two-year, $175,000 grant.

The festival brings playwrights to the South Coast Repertory to refine plays in progress in private workshops with directors and other creative advisors.

They are then staged for the public, either in full productions with costumes and scenery, or in readings given by casts of actors wearing street clothes.

The grant extension and increase--from $87,500 to $100,000 annually--is a vote of confidence in how the festival has progressed, said Catherine Wichterman, the Mellon Foundation official who makes grant recommendations to its directors.

"The increase is in recognition of the progress the festival has made, and its plans for the future," she said. The Mellon Foundation gives $10 million to $20 million annually to arts organizations.

"It was a great endorsement. We're very honored," said David Emmes, co-founder and producing artistic director of South Coast Repertory.

Emmes said the Mellon grant will cover about half the estimated $200,000 cost of the three-week festival.

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