Associate Professor and Head of Playwriting Concentration Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig is the recipient of a 2019 United States Artists Fellowship, an award given to the most compelling artists working and living in the US.
Fellowships are $50,000 unrestricted awards recognizing artists for their contributions to the field, and allowing them to decide how to best support their lives.
Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig is an internationally produced playwright whose work has been staged at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre of Great Britain, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Manhattan Theater Club, the Goodman Theatre, Trafalgar Studios 2 on the West End and the József Katona Theater in Budapest.
Frances' plays have been awarded the Wasserstein Prize, the Yale Drama Series Award (selected by David Hare), an Edinburgh Fringe First Award, the David A. Callichio Award and the Keene Prize for Literature. She has held year-long playwright residencies at Manhattan Theater Club and Marin Theater Company, and is currently under commission from the National Theatre, American Conservatory Theater and California Shakespeare Theatre.
She has benefited from artist residencies at Yaddo, Macdowell, Hedgebrook, Ragdale, the Sundance Playwright Retreats at Ucross and Flying Point, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. Her work has been published by Yale University Press, Glimmer Train, Methuen Drama, Samuel French and Dramatists Play Service.
Frances was born in Philadelphia, and raised in Northern Virginia, Okinawa, Taipei and Beijing. She received an MFA in Writing from the James A. Michener Center for Writers at UT Austin, a BA in Sociology from Brown University, and a certificate in Ensemble-Based Physical Theatre from the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre. She is an Associate Professor of Drama at UC Santa Barbara, where she has the pleasure of mentoring undergraduate playwrights.
The story of United State Artists begins in 2003, when the Urban Institute conducted a study which revealed that 96% of Americans valued art in their lives, while only 27% valued artists.*
Motivated by the study and in response to the NEA’s severe budget cuts, four inspiring leaders of the Ford, Rockefeller, Rasmuson, and Prudential Foundations spearheaded the launch of an organization to illuminate the value of artists to American society and address their economic challenges. Since the founding in 2006, United States Artists have awarded more than 500 artists with over $25 million of direct support in all disciplines including Architecture & Design, Craft, Dance, Film, Media, Music, Theater & Performance, Traditional Arts, Visual Art, and Writing. With this unrestricted award, Fellows decide for themselves how to best use the money – whether it is creating new work, paying rent, reducing debt, getting healthcare, or supporting their families.