Tony Awards Announce Isabelle Stevenson Award

By: Oct. 08, 2008
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The Tony Awards announced the inception of The Isabelle Stevenson Award today, which will recognize an individual from the theatre community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations, regardless of whether such organizations relate to the theatre.  This is the first new non-competitive Tony category since the 1990 introduction of Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre.  The 2009 Tony Awards®, are presented by The Broadway League and The American Theatre Wing.

"Isabelle Stevenson truly exemplified the role of a volunteer, leading the Wing for more than three decades out of her passion for the theatre, not for any reward,” said Howard Sherman, Executive Director of the American Theatre Wing.  “It is very possible that there wouldn't be an American Theatre Wing today were it not for Isabelle.  It is truly fitting that someone who was so influential on the Tony Awards over so many years will now be commemorated by the Tonys -- with that honor simultaneously recognizing others in the theatrical community who have helped great organizations advancing great causes to reach their own goals."

"Members of the Broadway community have historically served others outside the theatre industry in addition to helping their own. We are thrilled that this new award will acknowledge the great lady, Isabelle Stevenson, who generously dedicated her time and energy to helping many people in numerous ways,” said Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of The Broadway League. “Her tireless support for education and initiatives that nurtured artists significantly enhanced our culture. Since she set a precedent that inspired so many, the list of potential recipients will be long!"

In 1965, Isabelle Stevenson became president of the American Theatre Wing for what was expected to be an interim period. Stevenson quickly became one of the theatre world’s most celebrated and committed advocates, serving as the President of The American Theatre Wing for 33 years, and subsequently becoming Chairman of Board in 1998.  Throughout her tenure as both President and Chairman, Ms. Stevenson volunteered her time, never drawing a salary or honorarium.

Ms. Stevenson was Co-Chairman of the New York City Board of Education's All-Day Neighborhood Schools, served on the Board of Directors of The Museum of the City of New York and the board of New Dramatists, Inc. Isabelle Stevenson was honored at the New Yorker for New York Awards, receiving The Elizabeth Chapin Award for Volunteers in the Arts for the Citizens Committee for New York City. She was also honored by the Encore Community Services (St. Malachy's, The Actors' Chapel) with their Heart to Heart Award. In 1999 she was the recipient of a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement; in 2001 she was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame and, also that year, received the Tree of Life Award from the Jewish National Fund.

Ms. Stevenson was a celebrated dancer and performed internationally in such shows as Earl Carroll's Vanities, Florenz Ziegfeld's Follies and George White's Scandals.

The recipient of The Isabelle Stevenson Award will be selected by the Tony Award Administration Committee, in May 2009.  This non-competitive award will be presented to one individual per season, and will not necessarily be awarded every season. 

The Tony Awards will be broadcast in a live three-hour ceremony from Radio City Music Hall on the CBS television network on Sunday, June 7, 2009.  For more information please visit