The prize was established by Kennedy's sister Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith in consultation with playwright Tony Kushner. It will be announced each year on Feb. 22, the anniversary of Kennedy's birth. The Massachusetts senator died of cancer in 2009.
Plays and musicals that received their first professional productions in 2012 were eligible for the prize. The winners were selected by a panel of nine judges that included playwrights Lynn Nottage, Itamar Moses, Diana Son and Brian Yorkey and Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger.