Philadelphia's Barrymore Awards Announce Gender Neutral Categories

Philadelphia's Barrymore Awards Announce Gender Neutral Categories

With the launch of the 2018-19 Barrymore Awards season on July 1, Theatre Philadelphia announced this morning selected nominators and judges to adjudicate the upcoming year of performances.

The Barrymore Awards are a nationally recognized symbol of excellence for professional theatre in the Greater Philadelphia region, honoring local artists and theatre companies since 1994. In addition to awarding accomplishments in performance, design, and direction, the Barrymores bestow an annual Lifetime Achievement Award, as well four cash awards, which re-grant over $75,000 each year to artists and organizations.

Each spring, Theatre Philadelphia's Barrymore Oversight Committee selects a pool of 12 Judges and 76 Nominators to adjudicate the upcoming season of Barrymore-eligible productions. Nominators vote to make recommendations to the Judges, who then determine nominees and recipients. Categories range from performance to design, choreography, original music, New Plays, and direction.

This year, Theatre Philadelphia's Board approved a change that all performance categories at the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre will be gender-inclusive, with binary male and female designations replaced with gender-inclusive Performer categories. Theatre Philadelphia is dedicated to celebrating Philadelphia's diverse and growing theatre community, and creating changes that will make a lasting impact. In addition to making changes on awards categories, Theatre Philadelphia has examined its pool of Barrymore nominators and judges.

"We've embarked on a two-year process where the Diversity and Inclusion and Barrymore Oversight Committees have actively recruited nominators and judges with the values of diversity and inclusion at the forefront, resulting in changes to the make-up of this key group of volunteers," says executive director Leigh Goldenberg.

The 2018-19 application push resulted in a 30% increase in applications from 2017. From the pool of 176 applications, the Barrymore Oversight Committee identified a selection of 77 nominators and 12 judges. According to Theatre Philadelphia, 50% of judges selected for the 2018-19 season identify as a person of color. For selected 2018-19 Nominators, 44% specified being a person of color. This year's selection also saw an increase of the number of cis-gendered women to 83%.

"Barrymore nominators and judges, nominees, and award recipients must be reflective of Philadelphia's diverse community. "We aim to ensure those viewing and judging the work on stage come from a variety of backgrounds reflective of our city's population and of those artists telling the stories," she says. "This may lead us to not only a more inclusive awards ceremony, but a more inclusive theatre community and city".

In addition to the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Theatre Philadelphia programs include Philly Theatre Week, and a Marketing and Speaker Series program, which provides local theatres with tools and education on building audiences. Theatre Philadelphia's website, e-newsletter, and active social media presence connect audiences to what's on stage across the Greater Philadelphia region.

This summer, Theatre Philadelphia will host open office hours on Monday, July 2 and Monday, July 9, from 3-5pm at the Wilma's Good Karma Cafe at 265 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19107.

For more information about Theatre Philadelphia, visit

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