Association of Sound Designers Release Statement on Tony Committee's Elimination of Categories
As previously reported, the Tony Awards Administration Committee determined that Best Sound Design of a Play and Best Sound Design of a Musical Categories would be eliminated from the established list of competitive categories, beginning with the 2014-2015 season.
Today, the Association of Sound Designers has released a statment on the decision, urging the committee to reinstate the categories. The full response is as follows:
"We were disappointed to hear of the decision by the Tony Award Administration Committee to remove the categories of Best Sound Design of a Play and Best Sound Design of a Musical from their roster last week.
In 2008, Howard Sherman spoke on behalf of the American Theatre Wing and Broadway League to introduce the inclusion of these new categories, saying "We want to reflect an evolution of the understanding of the sound designer's role, both among artists and in the community at large. This is not an award for placing a microphone somewhere. It's about the creation of an aural environment that impacts our relationship to a production, just like any other design."
Sound design has evolved further since 2008 and now is an integral, if not utterly essential, part of every show playing on Broadway. To absent sound designers and their work from the awards is a failure to respect the contribution that sound designers make as core members of a show's creative team and the artistry that they bring to a show. The suggestion that ''[a] special Tony may be bestowed in the future when a production has extraordinary sound design'' - provides little consolation. Marginalizing sound design is a profoundly retrograde step.
It has been reported that one of the reasons for removing the awards was that "many Tony voters do not know what Sound Design is, or how to assess it" (New York Times, June 12). Tony voters are primarily made up of a wide range of theatre professionals, some directly involved in the creation of shows and some not. We would suggest that the panel does not need any more specialist skills to assess sound design than they do the other design categories. We would encourage the panel to seek guidance in assessing sound design from any number of professionals within our industry rather than exclude a large and integral section of the industry's creative workforce from a well respected and prestigious event.
We strongly encourage the Tony Awards Administration Committee to reconsider their decision."