Democracyworks is the Educational Theatre Association's student essay competition sponsored by play publisher Samuel French. The program was founded in 2009 to support and grow student advocacy on behalf of theatre and other arts education. In nine years, more than 300 students have written essays focusing on topics ranging from the importance of diversity to the value of theatre education in a democratic society. Each year's winner earns a trip to Washington, D.C. to take part in the National Arts Action Summit (formerly knowns as Arts Advocacy Day), where he or she reads their essay before attendees and visits Capitol Hill to meet with legislators to talk about the value of arts education.

The National Arts Action Summit, sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based Americans for the Arts, brings together arts advocates from throughout the country to meet with legislators on behalf of a wide range of arts issues, including arts education. The essay competition winner and a chaperone must be available to attend the two-day event. The winning essayist takes part in all scheduled Arts Advocacy Day events, including legislative training on current arts issues circulating on Capitol Hill; the Congressional Arts Breakfast; visits to representatives’ and senators’ offices; and the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The winning essay and a photo of the winner will be published in Dramatics. The first runner-up essayist will be awarded $150, and second runner-up $100.

2019 Winner

2019 winner

The winner of the 2019 Democracyworks essay competition is Brannon Evans, Millard West High School Thespian Troupe 5483, Omaha, Nebraska. Her winning essay was one of a record 68 essays submitted by members of the International Thespian Society (ITS) for this year’s competition.

See and hear Brannon Evans’ presentation of her essay at the National Arts Action Summit here >

First Runner Up

2019 runner up

First runner up is Lena Dougherty, Middle Township High School, Thespian Troupe 7564, Cape May Court House, New Jersey.

Second Runner Up

2019 second runner up

Second runner up is Julie Matta, South Tama (Iowa) High School, Thespian Troupe 1038.

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