Democracyworks is the Educational Theatre Association's student essay competition. 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 250 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 National 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.
Arts Advocacy Day, 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.
The winner of the 2017 Democracyworks essay competition was Lance Junck, a student at Branson (Missouri) High School, Troupe 3482. You can watch Junck's speech at 2017's Arts Advocacy Day below, as well as the essay presentation by 2016 winner Sawla Meghjee.
The 2018 Democracyworks competition opens on December 1. To check out the guidelines and to apply visit https://schooltheatre.academicworks.com/opportunities/250.