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SDCF Establishes the Barbara Whitman Award for Female, Trans or Non-Binary Early-Career Directors

Established by the theatrical producer Barbara Whitman, the award will be given in its inaugural year to a director who has demonstrated a unique vision in their work.

SDCF Establishes the Barbara Whitman Award for Female, Trans or Non-Binary Early-Career Directors

Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation announced today the creation of the Barbara Whitman Award, an unrestricted cash prize of $10,000 that will be presented annually to a female, trans or non-binary early-career director.

Established by the theatrical producer Barbara Whitman, the award will be given in its inaugural year to a director who has demonstrated a unique vision in their work. "I'm thrilled to be creating this award," says Whitman. "When I read SDC + SDCF's Next Stage report, I was surprised to find out how few awards are given to directors. It seemed only natural for me to establish an award so I could help female, trans or non-binary early-career directors, especially during these particularly difficult times."

The Next Stage report, On the Edge: The Lives and Livelihoods of Stage Directors and Choreographers, is a two-year, three-phase research study that captures the state of the field in fall 2019 and amid the COVID-19 crisis of 2020. The report reveals a sobering picture of urgent financial insecurities for women and people of color, who often lack both the financial security and creative opportunities they need to stay in the profession. The study concludes by looking forward to the future, and making recommendations as to how industry, philanthropic, and civic leaders could use the quantitative and qualitative data in the study to further the careers of directors and choreographers-and thereby the field. One such recommendation was to fund an award.

Says SDCF Vice President Anne Kauffman, "The Next Stage report notes that awards often make the difference for an artist being able to build a career or being able to sustain a career through the unrelenting pressure of finding the next job. It is all-too-infrequent that they are given with unrestricted financial support. SDCF deeply appreciates Barbara's leadership and vision for raising the profile of directors at a critical stage in their careers."

Nominations for the Barbara Whitman Award are being accepted through March 15, 2021. Nominees must have directed at least three productions outside an academic environment, but augment their directing work with non-artistic sources of income. Nominees must reside full-time in the United States and must be nominated by a theatre industry professional. Neither the nominator nor the nominee are required to be SDC Members. BIPOC directors are strongly encouraged to apply. There is no age requirement.

The Barbara Whitman Award winner will be chosen by panel of industry professionals that includes Christopher Burney, Mia Katigbak, Dan Knechtges, Leigh Silverman, and Tamilla Woodard. The winner will be announced in April.

Nominations will be accepted through 11:59 PM EST on Monday, March 15, 2021. Late nominations and self-nominations will not be accepted. A short nomination form and detailed guidelines are available on the SDCF website at https://sdcfoundation.org/the-barbara-whitman-award/


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