Sunday, June 21, 2009

Outstanding Stage Manager Award

When Nick, Jason and I first conceived the idea of the Innovative Theatre Awards, we discussed at length what the award categories would be.
We wanted to make sure that they took into account the uniqueness of OOB and honored the many people who contributed to the productions. We included categories like: Outstanding Ensemble, Outstanding Short Script, Outstanding Sound Design, Outstanding Choreography (that included fight choreography). These are categories that most of the other theatre awards do not present. But we all know how valuable the contributions of these artists are.

In those initial conversations we discussed presenting an Outstanding Stage Manager (OSM) award. It was something we felt very strongly about. The challenge (as you might imagine) was, how to adjudicate it in a way that was fair and meaningful.

We took months devising the adjudication process for the production awards. The idea was to get the community involved, to make connections between companies and artists and get audiences more invested in OOB. We consulted hundreds of theatre practitioners, other awards organizations and even a mathematician. While we felt very confident about the process for most of the awards, we still did not have a good plan for the OSM award. It was very frustrating, but we decided to move forward without it for the time being.

However, it was never far from our minds. Every year it was at the top of the list of improvements we wanted to make. Four years of managing these awards - including the honorary awards - gave us some significant insight and we began to see a way to make this happen.

We contacted a number of Stage Managers and some well regarded OOB artists and asked them what they thought of the idea of an OSM award and the plan we had devised for selecting this person. Everyone we contacted was over the moon about the idea. They eagerly provided feedback about the qualities of a good Stage Manager and suggestions on how to evaluate the applicants.

Some of the ideas were great, but not something that the IT Awards could reasonably undertake. As an example, one person suggested sending a judge to shadow and evaluate the Stage Manager as they ran the production. And true, that would give us a clear idea of how the SM handled them self during a production. However I think that most SMs would feel a little intimidated by that; OOB booths rarely have enough room for the crew let alone an additional body; and it would mean sending an additional judge to all registered productions, which honestly is beyond our capability and too much of an imposition on the production.

The feedback helped refine the application and selection plan. I would like to mention that Cat Parker was very instrumental during this process. She helped us improve our initial application, identify people we should consult and generally provided sound advice.

This is an exciting year for us. We are celebrating our 5th year and it is such a great birthday present to be able to present the Outstanding Stage Manager Award.

I wanted to thank everyone that provided suggestions and response. This award is an experiment of sorts (we think we might be the first awards to present this honor along with all the other production awards) so feedback from the community is important and we are eager to hear from you.

Friday, June 12, 2009

NEA Alert: From Americans for the Arts

This morning in Congress, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which sets the initial funding level for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), approved a $15 million increase for the NEA in its FY 2010 spending bill, setting it on a path towards final House consideration. Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA) has once again championed the arts and culture and proposed an increase in funding. Please send a message to your Members of Congress telling them to support this important funding increase!

Currently funded at $155 million, this increase would bring the agency's budget to $170 million. In his statement, Chairman Dicks referenced the Arts Advocacy Day hearings the subcommittee held as demonstrating that "the endowments are vital for preserving and encouraging America's arts and cultural heritage." On Arts Advocacy Day, Americans for the Arts presented a panel of witnesses before Chairman Dicks' Appropriations Subcommittee calling for a significant increase in funding for the NEA. Witnesses included Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center Wynton Marsalis, renown singer-songwriter Josh Groban, legendary singer Linda Ronstadt, Reinvestment Fund CEO Jeremy Nowak and Americans for the Arts President & CEO Robert Lynch. Pictures from the hearing and further details including the witnesses' testimony are available online here.
Thanks to all of the grassroots advocates for your letters and calls to Congress and for attending Arts Advocacy Day. We're seeing the results!

Next Steps:
The FY 2010 Interior Appropriations bill will next go to full committee and then to the House floor for final consideration where your help may be needed to defend against floor amendments attempting to cut this increase. We must now put pressure on the Senate to match this funding level. Please take two minutes to visit the Americans for the Arts E-Advocacy Center to send a letter to your Members of Congress letting them know that the arts are important to you!

Friday, June 5, 2009

1st Annual Indie Theatre Midsummer Classic


Please join The Community Dish, The New York Innovative Theatre Foundation, The League of Independent Theatre and United Stages for the:

1st Annual Indie Theatre Midsummer Classic
(Softball Game and Picnic)

Sunday, July 26th
noon to 4pm
Central Park's Great Lawn
(Enter the park at 81st Street)

Picnic (bring your own) - noon to 1:30
Softball Game - 1:30 to 4pm
Drinks at a nearby pub - 4pm til they run out of beer

Your team captains Tim Errickson and Michael Criscuolo ask that if you have equipment to please bring it and to be prepared to share a glove with a neighbor.

Celebrate the summer with a turkey sandwich, a few grounders and some good friends!

4pm drinking and continued socializing will be done at:
Blondie's Sports Bar on 79th Street (between Broadway & Amsterdam)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Please Help NYTE Win a $5,000 Grant from Microsoft

From Rochelle Denton

Today I write to ask for about 10 minutes of your time to help and The New York Theatre Experience, Inc., win a grant from Microsoft.

We have entered the "Show Your Impact" Contest, which is sponsored by TechSoup and Microsoft Corporation. The winners of this contest -- there will be three -- will each receive a $5,000 cash grant from Microsoft plus $25,000 in donated software. For a technology-based small nonprofit company like ours, this is a fantastic opportunity! And we believe we have a shot at winning.

To enter the contest, we had to write a "story" about the impact that Microsoft software, which we received via their donation program with TechSoup, has had on our organization and on the community of theatre-goers and theatre-makers we serve.

We now need to get our friends and supporters to go online to the "Show Your Impact" contest website and vote for our submission. So this is where you come in: please follow the link below, register, and vote for

The public voting process ends on Friday, June 5, and then the top vote getters in each category will move on to the finals, to be judged by Microsoft and TechSoup.

Anyone can vote. It will take you a few minutes: the contest rules require that you register (all they ask for is an email address) and also that you vote for a minimum of 3 projects (so you can't just vote for us--you have to pick a couple of other projects in order for your vote to be counted). It's kind of complicated and I'm sorry about that--but if you'll bear with the process and vote, we will be very appreciative!

Our submission is called Our submission date is 5/20/2009. Our category is "Optimize Mission Delivery." There can only be one winner per category, so you'll maximize our chance to win by not selecting any other entries in that category.

Please pass this information along to anyone you think would like to help us! Your support is enormously appreciated.

And please take a few moments to read our submission entry, which details some of the work we've done over the past several years to prepare and our other websites for Web 2.0 and beyond. Your comments and thoughts are welcome!

But the bottom line, once again: please vote for our submission to help us win this grant from Microsoft. Click here:

Read our story, register, and vote for us. Thank you!

Email me if you have questions. Learn more about TechSoup, the great nonprofit organization that has put together this contest, here.

Rochelle Denton