Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC) is a registered national arts service association mandated to advance the creative rights and interests of professional Canadian playwrights, promote Canadian plays nationally and internationally, and foster an active, evolving community of writers for the stage. It was founded in 1972 as the Playwrights Co-op. The main purpose was to publish and distribute scripts to encourage more productions of Canadian plays. Since then, it has grown and now provides programs and services for playwrights across the country, and now includes more than 600 playwrights. PGC provides promotional and advocacy programs and services for the creative rights of Canadian playwrights.
Through its independently run subsidiary, Playwrights Canada Press, which was established in 2002, PGC is a primary source for unpublished Canadian plays, as well as information regarding performance rights.
To help support and advance Canadian playwriting, PGC offers the following services to its members:
PGC also publishes CanRevue, an electronic catalogue of Canadian Copyscript plays, on a monthly timetable. CanRevue promotes new Canadian plays and is sometimes released as a special edition pertaining to genre or geographical region. In 2011, PGC added a section within CanRevue entitled "Stage Ready". This is intended to narrow the gap between a written work and a production, and allows members to send PGC plays that have not yet been produced, but are ready to be promoted for the stage. CanRevue is sent out to over two hundred theatres (both professional and amateur) and to schools across Canada.
PGC had its origins in a meeting held in 1971 by the Canada Council's theatre officer, David Gardner, with Carol Bolt, Tom Hendry and Len Peterson to discuss issues affecting English Canadian playwrights. Those present at the meeting determined that there was a need for a publishing house for Canadian plays. Following the meeting, Bolt, Hendry and Peterson established the Toronto Playwrights Circle to obtain funding for the project. This led to the founding of the Playwrights Co-op of Canada in the following year, for the purpose of publishing and distributing plays written by Canadian playwrights. In 1979, the Playwrights Co-op changed its name to Playwrights Canada, Inc.
In 1977, the Guild of Canadian Playwrights formed to advocate on behalf of playwrights and to lobby for suitable working conditions for Canadian playwrights. In 1982, the Guild of Canadian Playwrights and Playwrights Canada, Inc. merged to form the Playwrights Union of Canada. In 2002, the organization changed its name to the Playwrights Guild of Canada. That same year, it established its publishing arm, the Playwrights Canada Press.
The Playwrights Guild of Canada is a registered charitable organization. In 1986, PGC created the Canadian Drama Foundation (formerly known as the Foundation for Recognition of Excellence in Drama) as its charitable arm. Part of its funding comes from the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Ministry of Culture, and the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.
The Guild has a Women's Caucus, which awards the "Bra D'Or" ("Golden Bra") for supporting the work of female playwrights.
PGC has an annual awards competition with several categories: Lifetime Membership, Honorary Membership, Post-Secondary Competition, the Bra D'Or Award, Carol Bolt Award for Playwrights, Stage West Pechet Family Comedy Award, and Stage West Pechet Family Musical Award. The awards were recently named the Tom Hendry Awards after Tom Hendry, a founding member of PGC who died in 2012. The awards carry generous cash prizes and winners are recognized in a ceremony occurring in the fall each year. Deadlines for the awards are April 30 and May 31.
As in previous years, in the future the awards ceremony will continue to forge relationships with other arts organizations and corporate sponsors, celebrating excellence in Canadian playwrighting.