BMI Announces Launch of “George Bailey Fund” in Support of BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop

First and second year participants eligible for grants

Posted in News on April 28, 2017

BMI is pleased to announce the launch of “The George Bailey Fund” in conjunction with the new fund’s administrator, the Dramatist Guild Fund (DGF). The new fund is designed to benefit participants of the esteemed BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop by providing first and second-year workshop members with financial assistance for unforeseen expenses that go beyond the normal day-to-day cost of living that would hinder the pursuit their craft.

The name of the fund was inspired by a scene in It’s a Wonderful Life, which stems from an assignment given during the workshop. In the scene, George Bailey gives his friends and neighbors what they need to tide them over financially, which is exactly what the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, hopes the fund will achieve. As someone who has participated in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, the donor has seen firsthand how unexpected expenses can interfere with the creative process.

Grants of up to $500 per person will be awarded during each workshop term, September through August, and applications, which will be managed by the DGF, will be accepted starting today at Patrick Cook, BMI’s Director of Jazz & Musical Theatre, who also directs the workshop, will determine eligibility for the grants, along with workshop administrator, Frederick Freyer. All applicants’ personal information will be kept strictly confidential.

“We are extremely thankful for the donor’s generosity in helping our musical theater writers,” said Cook. “Seeing firsthand the amazing work that has come out of the workshop, I know this fund will provide our lyricists and composers with the financial support needed to foster creativity and enrich the stage for generations to come.”

“We have been committed to this kind of outreach and support for the past 55 years, and we are so pleased to be able to join with BMI to offer these important grants,” notes Rachel Routh, Executive Director of DGF. “For aspiring writers early in their career, these unexpected financial challenges can completely derail their plans and stall their progress. These grants will help prevent that and get them back on their feet.”

Following this announcement, the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop will hold a showcase on Monday, May 1, at The Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater in New York City. The showcase will feature performances of the newly developed pieces from the workshop’s top members. All works are currently in development for on-and-off-Broadway and demonstrate the vast talent that springs from this prestigious workshop. The show is free and open to the public, with doors opening at 4 PM and the show starting at 4:30 PM.

BMI’s Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop has helped develop top talent for half a century, with past members of the workshop including lyricists and composers behind award-winning productions such as A Chorus Line, Little Shop of Horrors, Nine, Once on This Island, Ragtime, Avenue Q, Next to Normal, and The Book of Mormon. Legendary talents Alan Menken, Frederick Freyer, Nancy Golladay, Adam Mathias, Jane Smulyan, Sarah Wordsworth, Maury Yeston and David Spencer also serve as steering committee members.


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