Among New York playwriting programs, only Juilliard's postgraduate program is free, but it concludes with a diploma, not the MFA that some schools require for teaching positions, which many writers use to support themselves.

It's a missed opportunity, says Wellman, who notes that New York can offer a unique environment for writers. "People in New York have a special kind of energy, and there is a special kind of community here," he says. "Young writers here actually form their own communities, form their own small presses, form their own theater companies."

If playwrights go bankrupt, will only the bankrupt write plays?
Mladen Cvjetianin/Curtis Franklin
If playwrights go bankrupt, will only the bankrupt write plays?


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Without assistance, Wellman worries, students may move to centers with free programs and stay there, robbing New York of the creative class that helps make the city so singular. If universities and foundations don't find ways to make arts instruction more affordable and careers in the arts more viable, Wellman warns, "We're not going to have artists in New York anymore."

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