Chicago – Several new initiatives were approved at the Jeff Awards membership meeting Monday, January 29, 2018, in response to findings from a research study conducted independently in 2017 by Taproot+.
- Starting a quarterly newsletter for the public with the first issue expected this spring.
- Forming an ad hoc committee to examine voting procedures and the final ballot.
- Forming an Outreach Task Force to address how the Jeff Awards can partner and collaborate in the community as well as awarding scholarships.
- Making rotation available immediately for new members to attract younger members by reducing the time commitment. Rotation allows a member to focus on one of two theatre wings, Equity and Non-Equity, in a season rather than judge both wings.
- Eliminating the hiatus rule for Non-Equity theatre companies not recommended for three years, which will be effective April 1.
In addition, the Membership Committee is proactively recruiting younger and minority candidates to address the diversity issue. Five new members have recently been approved and are on a “waiting list” for when openings on the 55 member roster occur.
Jeff Awards meetings are preceded by a panel of theatre experts on various theatre topics. A Scenic Design panel discussed excellence in Scenic Design on Jan. 29. The discussion was filmed, and can be viewed here.
Included in the audience were theatre students from Oak Park-River Forest High School, Columbia College and members of the public. Topics on future panels will be announced to the public ahead of the meetings.
“This is a good start to addressing issues revealed in last year’s research project,” said David Liesse, Jeff Awards Chair. “Some initiatives will begin quickly while more complex issues will take longer as they are studied and feedback gathered on recommended solutions.”
The Jeff Awards has been honoring outstanding theatre artists annually since it was established in 1968. With up to 55 members representing a wide variety of backgrounds in theatre (including producers, directors, actors, playwrights, designers, professors of theatre, entertainment lawyers and agents and theatre lovers), the Jeff Awards is committed to celebrating the vitality of Chicago area theatre by recognizing excellence through its recommendations, awards and honors. Opening night judges include not only Jeff members but also the team of Arts and Technical theatre volunteers (the “A/T Team”) which is comprised of artistic directors, producers, directors from major Chicago theatres, actors and designers. The Jeff Awards fosters the artistic growth of area theatres and theatre artists and promotes educational opportunities, audience appreciation and civic pride in the achievements of the theatre community. Each year, the Jeff Awards judges 300 theatrical productions and host two awards ceremonies. Originally chartered to recognize only Equity productions, the Jeff Awards established the Non-Equity Wing in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non-union theatre.