News Release: Seattle Finalist Announced for the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge

Seattle Finalist Announced for the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students

Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and The 5th Avenue Theatre joins the National Endowment for the Arts and Playbill Inc. to promote musical theater songwriting 

SEATTLE (May 19, 2016) — Today, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and The 5th Avenue Theatre joins the National Endowment for the Arts and Playbill Inc. with additional support from Disney Theatrical Group, in announcing a King County high school student as the finalist in the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students. The winning finalist is Angel Rodriquez, 17, from Puget Sound Adventist Academy.

This summer, Angel Rodriguez and the finalists from Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN and Dallas County, TX will travel to New York City where they will take part in an intensive songwriting workshop with professional musicians, singers, songwriters, and producers to learn more about songwriting and sharpen their songwriting skills. At the end of the workshop, their original song will be performed by professional musicians and singers in a final competition with judges from the music and musical theater industry.

The national winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship award, and each national runner-up will receive $2,500. Scholarships are provided by the National Music Publishers’ Association Supporting Our Next Generation of Songwriters (S.O.N.G.S.) Foundation. In addition, the national winner’s song will be published by Sony/ATV.

“We at The 5th Avenue Theatre are thrilled to partner with The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) on the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for 2016,” says Bernadine C. Griffin, Managing Director of The 5th Avenue Theatre. “We are passionate about musical theater, developing new work, and providing high quality musical theater training for teens at our theater and in local high schools throughout King County. We are proud of all the students who worked so hard and submitted great, original songs to the Challenge.”

In its pilot year, the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students is only available to high school students in three metropolitan locales: in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; Dallas County, Texas; and, Seattle and King County, Washington. More information on The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students can be found at Follow the conversation about the Songwriting Challenge at #IWriteSongs16.


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About the Office of Arts & Culture | Seattle

The Office of Arts & Culture envisions a city driven by creativity that provides the opportunity for everyone to engage in diverse arts and cultural experiences. The Office is supported by the 16-member Seattle Arts Commission, citizen volunteers appointed by the mayor and City Council. Find out more at Follow @SeaOfficeofArts or

About The 5th Avenue Theatre

The nonprofit 5th Avenue Theatre is acclaimed as one of the nation’s leading musical theater companies and is especially renowned for its production and development of new works. Since 2001, the Seattle-based company has produced 17 new musicals. To date, nine (including the sensational hit Disney’s Aladdin) have moved on to Broadway premieres, earning a combined 15 Tony Awards, including two for Best Musical (Hairspray and Memphis). The 5th Avenue Theatre is also known for its world class, critically acclaimed productions of musicals chosen from both the contemporary canon and the Golden Age of Broadway.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through September 2016.

About Playbill, Inc.

Since its inception in 1884, PLAYBILL has become synonymous with the legitimate theatre and is an internationally known trademark and symbol of the arts. Playbill Magazine, which can be found in theatres and classical arts venues throughout the country, proudly serves every Broadway house as well as the country’s most prestigious fine arts institutions, including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. In 2016 Playbill presses will roll out 3.5 million programs monthly for nearly 100 theatres in 24 cities. was established in 1994, and has since grown to become the leading source of theatre information on the web and has expanded to a suite of online offerings including Playbill Vault, Playbill EDU, Playbillder, and more. Visit for more information.






NEA Chairman Visits Seattle

NEA Chairman Jane Chu was recently in Seattle to promote the arts and announce The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students.

While Chairman Chu was in Seattle the Washington State Arts Commission, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience hosted a Town Hall. It was a vibrant night and exemplified why Washington state and Seattle care so passionately about the arts.

Here is why the arts are so important in Chairman Chu’s own words, excerpted from her remarks that night:

Art can celebrate and preserve our heritage, and also help us see what’s special about who we are, and help us find our place in the world. The arts benefit all aspects of society. We see through hard evidence that in the State of Washington alone, the arts generated $1.8 billion in the economy. There were close to 120,000 creative jobs throughout the state, and that number continues to grow.

In the United States as a whole, the arts and cultural sectors made up 4.23% of the nation’s GDP in 2013. That’s $704.2 billion, that’s three-quarters of a trillion dollars. 4.7 million workers were employed in the production of arts and cultural goods.

And when we see that the ways people are participating in the arts have expanded, we can celebrate that Americans are recognizing the value and meaning that the arts bring to their everyday lives. In addition to the wonderful traditional ways the NEA has measured arts participation for the past five decades, we also know that:

Three-quarters of all American adults – that’s 167 million people – used electronic media to view or listen to art; or they create music or videos through electronic media. More than half of all Americans attended a live visual or performing arts event.

And now, more than ever before, a greater share of adults, take art classes or lessons; like creative writing, acting, visual arts, or music. The arts are a sector that is rich and textured. There’s some type of art for everyone and the cultural landscape can accommodate the different perspectives, attitudes, and behaviors of Americans better than it ever has before.

Washingtonians are overachievers when it comes to participating in the arts. For example, the national average rate of U.S. adults who attended a live performing arts event is 37.4%. In the State of Washington, the average is 45.5%.

  • The national average for attending a jazz performance is 8.1%. The Washington average is 12.7%.
  • In classical music, the national average is 8.8%, but the Washington average is 13.9%.
  • In attendance at Latin Music performances, the national average has been 5.1%, and Washington’s average is slightly higher, at 5.6%.
  • The national average for attending a musical play or opera is 16%, but Washington’s attendance is 20.8%. And in non-musical plays, the national average is 8.3%, and Washington exceeds the national average with 9.9%.
  • In dance, the national attendance average of 7.4% is exceeded in Washington by 10.4%.
  • And the national average of 20.8% of those who attended an outdoor performing arts festival, is eclipsed by Washington’s average attendance of 29.3%.

We’re really making progress as a nation, in moving away from the old stereotype that the arts are removed from the rest of society, or that they’re only for some people but not for others, when we know that isn’t true. They allow us to go deeper, at its heart, the arts is the creative process; this process of innovation and creativity that has made America so great. That is what’s behind the transformational power that the arts have.

When artists create, they’re able to draw in a deeper level of energy, of meaning, of value. They’re able to find new solutions to tired old problems, solving them sometimes in unexpected ways. They’re more appreciative of taking risks. And time stands still for them. Have you ever been so immersed in a process that you enjoyed – even if the process was very complex – that you looked up and suddenly realized that hours upon hours had passed? When we enter the creative process, we’re tapping into an opportunity to provide richer meaning, deeper value, and greater connections for ourselves. And when we attend or participate in these performances, and programs, and arts activities, we’re able to share and honor the creative processes of others, as well.

We know that the arts have provided opportunities to transcend the use of linear, everyday words, and touch something deeper and far more meaningful, making our lives worthwhile. They help us become the best versions of ourselves, providing individuals, communities, and industries with the tools needed to grow and achieve.

ARTS was proud to host the Town Hall with Chairman Chu and we all look forward to more NEA visits to Seattle in the future.

Photo by Strauss Peyton Studios.