Arts and Humanities Grants and Fellowships

Full production grants available for Black playwrights throughout Indiana

Posted on  by tfrancisShare7 in IUPUI Office for Community Engagement blog

Lack of financial resources is often the most daunting obstacle for new writers trying to bring fresh, innovative story ideas from the pages of their script to the stage.

For a few aspiring writers, OnyxFest 2021 – the first and only Indiana theater festival exclusively for African American playwrights – will cover all expenses required to bring scripts to life. One-act plays will be accepted for consideration up to midnight Sunday, February 28th.

This competition is designed to showcase the broad spectrum of stories that depict Black life and culture. OnyxFest Director Vernon A. Williams said, “This is an event that empowers Black artists to create their own narrative, to tell their own stories.”

Playwrights will receive royalties along with stipends to pay actors, directors, lighting assistants and sound technicians. The grant will include funds for set design, props, costume and makeup as well as the complete cost of theater rental for both rehearsal and performances.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for serious new playwrights with talent but no resources,” Williams said, adding that OnyxFest 2021 will also provide playwrights script development, marketing and advertising for productions along with video recordings and internet streaming of plays.

Scripts should be submitted to Entries will then be submitted to a jury of theater professionals who will read each and determine five winners. Winners will be notified Monday, March 22, 2021. OnyxFest 2021 will be held in October.

Entries must be original one-act plays – between 45 minutes and an hour in length. There may be no more than six characters per cast.

Subject matter is unrestricted. Williams recommends that writers avoid stereotypes, degrading or disrespectful portrayals of Black life and culture, and gratuitous violence or sexual content.

OnyxFest 2021 is sponsored by the Africana Repertory Theater of IUPUI (ARTI), a program of study offered by the IUPUI School of Liberal Arts, School of Education and Office of Community Engagement using theater to document and artistically reflect the history, cultural life, and politics of people of the Africana Diaspora.

Watch all six productions of last year’s OnyxFest at beginning at noon February 1st. For more Information on this year’s festival, text or call 317.457.8779 or email

For more information, contact Vernon A. Williams, IUPUI Communication and Engagement Strategist, OnyxFest 2021 Executive Producer at 317.274.8710 or

About the Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (A.R.T.I.)

ARTI leverages the creative and communal power of the arts as a vehicle to bring about community, youth empowerment, and positive social transformation. Our community-based outreach includes workshops, theatrical productions, school-based programs, university teaching, and arts-based research to develop, promote, and build upon a strong creative art tradition. Through curated events, public conversations, and community-engaged practice, we seek to connect people to the cultural and artistic traditions of the African Diaspora. ARTI’s leadership team includes, Dr. Leslie K. Etienne, IUPUI Center for Africana Studies and Culture; Dr. Khaula Murtadha, Office of Community Engagement; Susan Kigamwa, Office of Community Engagement; Dr. Lasana D. Kazembe, School of Education & Africana Studies; Dr. Regina Turner, Center for Engaged Learning, Division of Undergraduate Education and the Africana Studies Program; and Vernon A. Williams, Office of Community Engagement.

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