We never post opportunities that require a submission fee. LEARN MORE.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The no-fee policy will continue

Thanks to everybody who participated in the NYCPlaywrights poll asking whether or not we should continue the policy of refusing calls for scripts that require a fee as part of the submission process.

We received 212 votes and by a clear majority of 170 to 42 the proposition that the no-fee policy should continue has won. We will not be changing the policy.

A number of people responded to the option to email with their thoughts on this issue and their comments are posted below by permission. We thank them for their additional participation in the decision-making process.
NOTE: if you sent us your comment and we said we'd post it and we haven't, please let us know - we want to share all opinions when the author is willing. 

I find this puzzling. Why should I pay simply to have my plays read?  Do theater companies charge directors, tech crew and actors to audition?  And yet without our plays those people would have nothing to do.
 My plays continue to be produced but I realize that more theater companies are using fees to finance their productions. There are better ways of funding: applying for grants, having raffles, selling ads in programs, just to name three.
Please continue to provide opportunities for those of us who don't pay fees. And please don't encourage those who do by posting their calls for plays.
Thank you.  
Shirley King  

I think it makes sense to include them all.
Sometimes the fees are quite reasonable and go towards prizes. And I often don't mind a fee if it helps support the organization.
Perhaps you add a line at the top of the entry that mentions the fee?
Keep up the great website!
John Yunker

No. Don't change the policy.
I don't choose to pay a fee. For those who do, there are other sites that list fee-paid opportunities.
Don Grimme

I think you should continue to go against fees; however, there are contests which allow Dramatists Guild members to waive fees, which I would recommend allowing. Thanks so much for what you do.   

 I very much respect your policy for only including submission notices that are fee free.
A good reason is to simply look at the corruption that has completely overtaken submissions for screenplays.  Let's continue to keep theatre on a less crass plane.
However, an independent request from theaters to cover the cost of reading and evaluating plays,completely separate and unrelated from any invitation to submit work, might be something that you might consider posting on occasion. 
- Michael Penny

Like everything, judging the rationale for paying a fee should be done on a case-by-case basis.  The DGs position on this is silly, as I believe, is yours.  Even some of the prestigious non-profits ask with a wink-wink and a nod-nod for a "contribution."
A Local Joe's New Playwriting Contest charging a $20 fee (As recently happened in FL at St. Pete's STUDIO@620) should be viewed with skepticism - if not legal intervention. But when a non-profit with a serious track record asks for $10, I have no trouble chipping in.  It's all about getting new work on stage. 
- Phillip Hall 

I really really really like the no fees feature policy. I enjoy not having to scroll through a group of postings to figure out which ones are free. I am a starving artist, really and truly, some weeks I have work and other weeks I have none, zero, zilch! It is frustrating to see things you are interested in sending entries to and then realizing you can't even afford the fee. No fee policy, please! 
Kay Rodriques

I will not submit if there is a fee...  there is too great a chance of exploitation and abuse.  Please don't change your policy. 
Jim Anton

It's a tough one.  I used to only send to places with a no fee submission policy but I realize that many of the big ones, the ones I want to help my career get to a new level are submission based.  I vote add them in and we'll decide if it is right for us to send to.
What bothers me now is how every single theatre wants a completely different submission packet.  My husband is a musician and he posts his packet on a website and when someone is interested he just sends his packet digitally.  Why can't theatres get with the times and make it simpler for playwrights to send them their submissions?  It takes hours to complete one packet.  I wish there was two options, one with our name and one without.  They could take their pick.  How do we make this happen?
-- Lynne Elson

First, I want to say how much I appreciate this blog as a resource. I've used it both as a playwright and an artistic director and it has proven invaluable. Thank you.
I for one would appreciate seeing any additional listings on the site. I personally understand why reading fees are charged and have no problem with making the decision as to whether or not I want to pay them in a given instance. 
Bastion Carboni

Please continue current policy. Your website is the only one I don't have to check on all details. I know your postings are no-fee. Thanks! 
Nancy Gall-Clayton

I suggest maintaining your current policy. I once was a Playwright in Residence in a theatre in Manhattan. The Artistic Director started advertising for play submissions which carried a $10 fee. He asked me to look at submitted plays but said that I wouldn't have to read them in their entirety, for he intended to maybe produce one play and pocket the rest of the money. I'm not saying all companies are dishonest, but I also believe that as a writer, I won't pay to have my work read. Just isn't worth it. Writers who are willing to pay can find many groups willing to take their money. Just look in the Dramatist's Source guide and other such resources. (Oh, by the way. I didn't accept the AD's request to read the plays)! 
Joe McDonald 

One of the things I love about NYCPlaywrights is the fact that you don't post opportunities that require a fee, so I think that it should continue being done. However, if I get outvoted (since there are good reasons to post paid submissions as well), I think it should say so at the top of the posts for the submissions (maybe with or right under the title), so if anyone doesn't want to read through paid submissions they don't have to (that way both sides would be happy).

Sarah M. Chichester

I think your policy is a sound one and should be maintained.  The Dramatists Guild, among other sites, publicizes fee required contests, et al. That's sufficient I should think.

Alan Stolzer

My name is Sean Behrens and I am a NYC playwright.  I have been produced, I self-produce, and I have won fellowships, earned my masters degree in playwriting, and currently apart of NYC Fringe as a playwright.
I have submitted many many times sometimes with submission fees and sometimes without.  But the submission fee really isn't deal breaker for me in submitting my material.  If there is a submission fee I know someone is on the other end reading it, it's usually an overworked intern but I assume that submission fee helps the reading of my material on the other end.
But there are scams, like the Strawberry One-Act Festival, Manhattan Rep, or other festivals that just behave as a for-profit venue not really.
Perhaps some research could be done as to which submission fees contests are worth it.  Meaning just because something has a submission fee it doesn't make it bad, but if a place is asking for 500 bucks for your to self produce (like Fringe but not a big) then I think that could be off your lovely site because there are a lot of suckers out there. 
Sean Behrens

Interesting. While the poll is not nearly complete yet I must admit I'm surprised by the percentages. I support NYCPlaywrights in their perspective of "no fee" submissions, and their reasons. I also feel we are all adults and have various perspectives on the topic, and that the bottom line is playwrights have the right to choose for themselves if they want to pay a fee or not. 
Michael Edan

I don't believe in Fees for playwrights.  Not unless it's to support printing costs.  Most people have Ipads and kindles these days and can read plays there, so even that's not needed. 
And then -- I'm also more likely to enter contests that have blind submissions.  
There is so much competition in entering contests these days because so many new playwrights have come up through the MFA system of the universities in the past 10 years. (Universities are set up actually to make money, so they teach playwriting because students want classes in it, and it gives theater people / playwrights an income, because so few of us can make a living by writing plays, so playwrights teach. -- but then theater companies get their staffs from universities who then want to produce only playwrights who've studied with other famous playwrights - so it becomes a closed club -- and everyone has huge student loans!) 
Few playwrights these days have come up through "theater" - ie working as an actor / assistant director / director and then playwright -- Most are minted from Universities.  
The MFA is a "gatekeeper" designation, and those of us who don't have that are not even read if you must include a bio with your play submission.  So I don't want to pay a fee on top of all that.  
When theater companies say "we received over 500 really great plays" you know no theater company can actually read that many plays, even one acts, and decide what play to produce.  They have to develop a screening system. 
- Jane Aldrin

Hi.  I love your website.  It would not matter to me if you decided to include fee-based announcements or not.  I decide whether to enter competitions and festivals based on what their value is to me as a playwright.  I don't mind paying a fee if the festival is worth it to me.  But if you decide not to include fee-based entries, that's fine, too.  I will still love your site.   I can see fee based entries on the other sites I view.  I like your site just the way it is if you decide not to change. 

Chip Bolcik

At the present time I do not believe that playwrights should have to pay a fee for submission of their work.  Early in my career I paid some fees because I believed I was contributing to the growth of the particular theater I was submitting to, and that could only benefit playwrights in the long run.  Today, I feel we are being insulted by being asked not only to pay a fee to submit our work, but in addition are often not even being paid for our creations in the event our work is produced.  I believe that NYC Playwrights ought to continue to take a stand against posting theater festivals, etc. which asks playwrights to pay a fee.   At least, if nothing else, we are holding on to our dignity.

I’ve seen a post that asks for a “participation fee” if the script is chosen for production, and the promise to pay a sum of money for the “best play.”  That’s different.  Here I think the participation fee would be acceptable because you at least have a shot at the grand prize. 

Joan Forster

Would it be too costly or time consuming to post both fee and non-fee comps. in your site, clearly stating which is which? I very muchappreciate your attempts at saving Playwrights (who never, short of a miracle, make much moneybeing that) money, but there are some comps. I've entered that had afee that have paid off. Why not give people the choice to decide for themselveswhether they can afford them,  given their circumstances at the moment.Whatever, thanks for the service, it's terrific. 
Shane Mullery

Stay with your current policy. For many reasons not the least of which is that the artistic work of this country or city or any other country or city should not be financed on the back of emerging artists... 
This is a very important issue and the more places like your site that maintain a strict policy of only listing legitimate calls for work without fees for participating, the more places that ask for work may be more likely to read without a fee. It's crazy how much we as artists are asked to subsidize a broken system, bribed by our own love of the work. Any efforts that can be put in place to undermine this tacitly accepted system, the better. 
Julia Lee Barclay  

Asking playwrights to pay is like asking actors to pay to audition or stage managers to pay for an interview.
Stephen Hyers

Stay, stay, stay with your current policy. 
Marsha Sheiness  

Although I'm clearly in the minority, there are my reasons for wanting to see fee-based postings:

- They widen the possibilities for getting one's work read.
- Not all fees are necessarily exhorbitant.
- There are already hidden fees for some "no-fee" competitions. Besides those that require a fee on acceptance, any competition that requires snail-mail submissions is going to cost me money for printer ink, paper, binding, a mailer, and postage.
- Anyone who doesn't want to submit to a fee-based competition, doesn't have to submit.
Larry Rinkel 

Please stay with your current policy. 
Mary Sue Price 

Please stay with your current policy. Pay-to-play isn't fair. No one asks actors for a $10 check to audition. 
Anne Phelan 

...post them all and let me decide on the $10s 
Paul Zeissler

I've never been a fan of pay-to-submit for anything. Everyone wants money for their time, yet artists' time is never respected. And artists are expected to pay for their work to be seen? It's the trend these days. Play submissions, film festival submissions, casting directors & agents for actor "evaluations." I understand the realities that it is hard for everyone, and that the reading of scripts, the viewing of films and culling of actors has its own set of challenges. We all have to make a buck, but have some respect. Writing a 100 page play which may not be very good IS STILL A HUGE AMOUNT OF WORK. At minimum it's a 100 pages filled with words. Respect the effort. Or try writing one yourself. It's so VERY easy to critique, yet so very hard to do.
Sturgis Warner 

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