Friday, October 18, 2013

Clarification of Position on 2013 Award Nominations – re: Direction of Music Theatre, B. Iden Payne Awards Committee

Published at the B. Iden Payne awards website and posted to AustinLiveTheatre on October 17:

B. Iden Payne awards committeeAs many of you are aware, or can imagine, we’ve received some negative feedback about the lack of recognition in the Direction of a Musical category for this year’s awards. A good deal of the feedback centers around the contention that this situation is virtually impossible, and must be either an oversight, or a breakdown in process on the council’s part. We, as a council, wish to assure you that we take our involvement in the community very seriously, and that we were very thorough in evaluating this season’s productions.

Our charter as a council is to support, promote and recognize excellence in Austin’s theatre community. In holding to that most basic of tenets, after a significant amount of time and effort to review and discuss the entire season, we came to the difficult conclusion that this particular category did not contain a comprehensive representation of the excellence that we are dedicated to, and are expected to recognize. While we certainly felt that there were many good examples of direction of a musical, we felt it was our duty to adhere to the level of excellence mandated by our guidelines, as represented by the balance of categories/nominees.

Of the 169 productions reviewed this season, 21 were under the banner of Music Theatre. Each production was attended on average by 5 to 6 committee members, and 13 of those productions are nominated on the 2012-2013 ballot. We feel that even with the exclusion of this category, the genre and its many creators are well represented in this year’s nominations.

To expand further, in our final meeting of the year (which lasted 14 hours), we dedicated a full hour to the discussion of this very topic. We reviewed the entire season, checked and double-checked the metrics we use to evaluate elements of a production, and we were still unable to fill this particular category. This was an agonizing decision for all involved, as we all are passionate, intelligent, dedicated theatre-makers who devote 100’s, if not 1000’s, of hours of our time viewing and reviewing the best Austin has to offer. Nobody wants to recognize excellence in theatre more than we do.

To further ensure the council’s objectivity, we have implemented a system this year that refines even more our evaluation of the elements of a production on a more granular level, utilizing our updated Artistic Guidelines, which are available for viewing on our website. This new system, if you’re wondering, would not have changed the outcome of this year’s nominations. It simply gives us more metrics as we enter our year-end meeting, putting us further down the road as we discuss and compile the final list of nominations.

Thank you again for your support of the B. Iden Payne Awards Council, and the Austin theatre community. If you still have questions, as we expect you might, please do not hesitate to contact us directly, and we will be happy to speak with you, and help clarify anything that might still be unclear. Our desire is to be as thorough and transparent as possible in serving you, the Austin theatre community.

Kelsey Kling

Executive Director, B. Iden Payne Awards Council

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