Building For The Arts Announces Merger with
The American Playwriting Foundation

The 2021 Relentless Award will be in Honor of Adam Schlesinger; 65k prize is the largest in American theater presented to an unproduced musical




(July 30, 2021 – New York, NY) 
The American Playwriting Foundation (David Bar Katz, Founding Artistic Director) is proud to announce that it has merged with Building for the Arts (Wendy Rowden, President; Josh Landay, Chief Operating Officer), the non-profit organization that programs and administers Theatre Row and Music and the Brain. The American Playwriting Foundation’s defining work, the annual Relentless Award, created in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman, will be presented under the auspices of Building for the Arts beginning in 2021.

The 2021 Relentless Award will honor Adam Schlesinger by dedicating this year’s award to musical theater. “At this time when words alone are unable to fully convey the pain and perseverance experienced by the theater community over the last year, as a tribute to Adam’s brilliance and extensive music career, we will recognize a new work by this year’s most relentless musical theater artists,” said American Playwriting Foundation Founding Artistic Director, David Bar Katz. Adam, an artistic advisor during the creation of the Relentless Award and an Academy Award, Tony-nominated and Emmy and Grammy Award-winning songwriter, passed away from COVID-19 last spring.


Adam Schlesinger

“The process of writing a new musical requires an extended multi-year commitment from writers who generally work for no pay,” said Katz. “Our goal is for this new Relentless Award to accomplish in musical theater what its parallel award has done in straight plays, to launch new talent and works of art that may not have been produced otherwise.”                              


Building for the Arts President Wendy Rowden said, “The mission of the American Playwriting Foundation truly complements the work of Building for the Arts, Theatre Row and Music and the Brain. Partnering allows us to add  a welcome new dimension to our programming and to provide a physical home for APF at Theatre Row.”


The American Playwriting Foundation, established in 2015 in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman and his relentless pursuit of truth in the theater, has presented the Relentless Award annually to a playwright in recognition of a new work. The largest annual cash prize in American theater for an un-produced work, the Relentless Award has led the way in spotlighting plays and artists that have revitalized the American stage by some of theater’s brightest new talents, including Aleshea Harris, Clare Barron, and Sarah DeLappe.


Led by David Bar Katz, the Relentless Award Selection Committee places special emphasis on works that are fearless in their choice of subject matter, featuring passionate voices that are relentlessly truthful. The Relentless Award selects eight finalists per year from several thousand submissions using a blind evaluation process that keeps the writers completely anonymous. “At a moment when the impulse of young writers is to craft plays that are small, tidy and producible,” said two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and Relentless judge, Lynn Nottage, “the Relentless Award celebrates writing that disrupts and up-ends our notions of what can be presented on the American stage. We are looking for brave, fearless and imaginative writers, who despite the tug of the industry at large, remain unabashedly true to their own voices.”


The winner of the Musical Relentless Award will be selected by a panel of judges composed of artists who have collaborated with Adam, including Rachel Bloom (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), Sam Hollander, Stephin Merrit and David Javerbaum. The Relentless Winning musical, along with Finalists and Semifinalists, will also receive development opportunities through a series of staged readings at Theatre Row.    


Building for the Arts (BFA) expands access to the performing arts by providing creative space, learning opportunities, and hubs for artistic connection. BFA’s signature projects – Theatre Row, Music and the Brain and the American Playwriting Foundation– nurture artists, audiences, and youth with a focus on accessibility and inclusion.