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2023 Thespian DemocracyWorks Essay Competition

The Educational Theatre Association’s annual DemocracyWorks Essay Competition is open to all inducted Thespian members.

About DemocracyWorks
DemocracyWorks was created to offer youth a voice to advocate for theatre education. This program combines an essay contest challenging students to advocate for theatre education, with the opportunity to be published in Dramatics.org.

DemocracyWorks 2023 Guidelines

As we look ahead to Theatre in Our Schools month in March, it’s a good time to reflect on how theatre education has impacted you and your fellow students, and why theatre and other arts are important to our society. The DemocracyWorks essay contest is an opportunity for you to tell your theatre story and to make the case for the arts as a key component of our democratic system of government.

2023 DemocracyWorks Essay Prompt
On September 30th, 2022, President Biden signed an executive order reestablishing the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, noting that “The arts, the humanities and museum and library services are essential to the well-being, health, vitality and democracy of our Nation.” 

Think about your experiences in theatre education and how they benefitted you, then respond to the following prompt inspired by President Biden's quote:

How have your theatre education experiences helped prepare you to actively participate in our democracy?

Any inducted member of the International Thespian Society (by March 1, 2023) who is enrolled in middle or high school during the 2022-23 school year may submit an essay. Previous winners are not eligible.


  • The winning essayist will be awarded $250, and the winning essay and a photo of the winner will be published on Dramatics.org
  • The first runner-up essayist will be awarded $150, and their essay and photo will be published on Dramatics.org
  • The second runner-up essayist will be awarded $100, and their essay and photo will be published on Dramatics.org

Scoring Rubric: DemocracyWorks Essay Rubric

Submission procedures
All essays must be between 500-700 words, based on the prompt, and submitted electronically to EdTA along with a general application. Please fill out all required fields in the general application, then upload your essay. Essays should be double-spaced, in 12-point type, and submitted as a PDF. There should be no identifying information on the essay document when submitted – essays should not contain the writer’s name or other identifying information in the body of the essay (i.e. Troupe Number, Director, etc.). Title your essay “2023 Thespian DemocracyWorks Essay.” All participants will receive an auto-reply confirming receipt of their essay; semi-finalists will be contacted by e-mail after the essay review process is completed. The winner and runners-up will be contacted after the second round of judging. Winning essayists will be asked to create a video tape of themselves reading their essay to be featured on our website and other social media.

The Deadline for submission is 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time, February 15, 2023.

Your essay is protected by copyright from the moment it is created. By submitting to the Educational Theatre Association, you are agreeing to allow EdTA to publish your essay in print and online. Please be aware that DemocracyWorks essay entries are often shared on our website and in other media, by submitting a DemocracyWorks essay, you are authorizing EdTA to publish, quote or excerpt your essay for use on our websites, partner websites and/or in public media.

Essays may be submitted beginning December 15, 2022
The Deadline for submission is 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time, February 15, 2023

This opportunity is for an inducted Thespian of the International Thespian Society (ITS), the student honorary organization of the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA).

Teachers and Troupe Directors note: DemocracyWorks makes an excellent curriculum item - see the Click to Teach: Become a Theatre Advocate.


Click here to submit an application and upload your essay.


DemocracyWorks is sponsored by Concord Theatricals.

*You must be logged in to submit an application. If this is your first time logging in, you should enter the email address currently connected to your Thespian record and click the “Forgot Your Password?” link to update your password for Community Hub. After you log into Community Hub, you will be able to access the Democracyworks application through the link above. If you have any issues logging in, please email EdTA Education Specialist, Leah Ball at lball@schooltheatre.org.