The Shen Family Foundation Musical Theater Composers Initiative
Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history of The Shen Family Foundation?
The Shen Family Foundation was started in 1994 by Ted Shen to serve as a vehicle for family giving. During its early years, it provided unrestricted funding primarily to not-for-profit organizations in the fields of education and the arts. Since 2002 it has increasingly concentrated its grant-making on supporting the works of exceptionally gifted and highly original musical theater composers and has formed the Musical Theater Composers Initiative to accomplish that purpose.

What are the major funding priorities of the Foundation?
Through its Musical Theater Composers Initiative, whose mission is to encourage originality, innovation and high artistic aspiration in the musical composition component of musical theater, the Foundation directs most of its grants to selected not-for-profit organizations to support theatrical productions and cast recordings of the works of composers who have the potential to push the art form forward.

Who can apply for a grant?
Only organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code are eligible to apply for grants from The Shen Family Foundation. Grants are generally restricted to providing funding support for not-for-profit theatrical productions and cast recordings of the works of qualifying musical theater composers, and are generally not made to provide unrestricted funds either for organizations or for special events such as fundraising galas or festivals. The Foundation is unable to process or respond to unsolicited grant requests.

Can an individual apply for a direct grant?
The Foundation regrets that it cannot make grants directly to individuals for any purpose.

What are some of the recent grants or projects funded by the Foundation?
Please see the Grant Recipients, Signature Theatre and Yale Curriculum sections of this website.

How does the Foundation select the composers whose works it will support?
The executive directors of the Foundation's Musical Theater Composers Initiative select composers of musical theater scores that are distinguished by exceptional originality, innovation and an advanced harmonic sensibility. While respectfully refraining from making or implying any value judgments, the Foundation is disinclined to consider composers whose work appears to be derived primarily from such genres as pop, rock or traditional musical theater pastiche.

Does the Foundation plan to extend its support of educational programs beyond the Yale musical theater curriculum?
While the Foundation has great admiration for the many educational outreach programs that introduce musical theater to new participants and audiences, its own educational support will remain focused solely on the Yale musical theater curriculum.