Columbia College Chicago Alum’s Pegasus Theatre Wins NEA Grant to Support Young Playwrights Festival

Ilesa Duncan

The Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department proudly congratulates Columbia College alum Ilesa Duncan ’99, executive/producing director of Pegasus Theatre Chicago, which has been approved for a $20,000 Grant for Arts Projects award from the National Endowment for the Arts. The grant will support in-school and production programming for Pegasus’ annual Young Playwrights Festival.

“We are honored to receive this award,” said Duncan. “The National Endowment for the Arts continued support is critical to the success of the Young Playwrights Festival, especially during this tumultuous time. This grant helps us continue to enhance language arts, encourage independent, high-level thinking, and influence career development for the next generation of teen Chicago writers.”
Founded in 1987, Pegasus’ Young Playwrights Festival — the second oldest such festival in the country — inspires Chicago students to explore their histories, research their communities, and mine their personal journeys to write dynamic one-act plays for the stage. The festival features full professional productions of winning plays from an annual playwriting competition for high-school-age scribes in Chicago. The competition enhances language arts, encourages independent, high-level thinking, strong personal values and influences career development for Chicago’s teens.
As previously reported in this blog, the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department hosted last year’s festival in the Courtyard Theatre of the Getz Theatre Center of  Columbia College in January 2020. This year’s festival was streamed virtually in January due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pegasus Theatre Chicago has been a mainstay in the Chicago theater community for more than four decades. Its mission is to champion new, authentic voices and produce boldly imaginative theatre primarily by and about black, indigenous or other people of color. Home of the Young Playwrights Festival, the company promotes cultural equity while celebrating diversity, inclusion, and first voice. Pegasus is also committed to initiating important conversations through the arts with strong community engagement and socially relevant programming, including the Young Playwrights Festival for high school-age scribes. Pegasus Theatre Chicago has received 77 Joseph Jefferson Awards and numerous nominations since its inception.
“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support this project from Pegasus Theatre Chicago,” said NEA Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. “Pegasus is among the arts organizations across the country that has demonstrated creativity, excellence, and resilience during this very challenging year.”