1/52 Project, Founded By Beowulf Boritt, Reveals This Year's Recipients

An Award Reception is planned for Wednesday, September 27 at West Bank Café’s Beechman Theatre, sponsored by Hudson Scenic Studio.

By: Sep. 11, 2023
1/52 Project, Founded By Beowulf Boritt, Reveals This Year's Recipients
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The 1/52 Project, the financial grant program founded by Tony Award-winning set designer Beowulf Boritt, has selected the second round of seven early-career designer recipients to benefit from $88,000 in grants. Applicants were chosen based on talent, creativity, innovation, and potential for future excellence in the professional theatrical field, and each of the inaugural recipients will receive grants up to $15,000. 

An Award Reception is planned for Wednesday, September 27 at West Bank Café’s Beechman Theatre, sponsored by Hudson Scenic Studio.

The 2023 recipients are Lighting designer Ebony M. Burton; Lighting designer Mextly Couzin; Costume designer Mika Eubanks; Costume designer Wilberth González; Sound designer Kathy Ruvuna; Scenic designer Gerardo Díaz Sánchez; and Hair/Wigs/Makeup designer Destinee Steele.

The 1/52 Project, launched in January 2022, is primarily funded by designers with shows running on Broadway who are encouraged to donate one week every year of their weekly royalties to this fund.  The project hopes to encourage early career designers from historically excluded groups, including all women, with the aim of diversifying and strengthening the Broadway design community. 

The grant criteria were created by, and adjudicated by, a world-class committee of professional designers: 

David Bengali: Projection Designer; Amith Chandrashaker: Lighting Designer; Jiyoun Chang: Tony nominated Lighting Designer; Wilson Chin: Set Designer; Alan C. Edwards: Lighting Designer; Justin Ellington: Sound Designer; Kai Harada: Tony winning Sound Designer; Rachel Hauck: Tony winning Set Designer; Cookie Jordan: Hair & Wig Designer; Sun Hee Kil: Sound Designer; Hana S. Kim: Projection Designer; Nikiya Mathis: Hair & Wig Designer; Elaine McCarthy: Projection Designer;  Kimie Nishikawa: Set Designer; Alejo Vietti: Costume Designer; and Anita Yavich: Costume Designer.

Tony Award-winning set designer Beowulf Boritt founded the 1/52 Project and co-manages it with production manager Bethany Weinstein Stewert. Projection Designer Simon Harding manages the group’s website. Designers Simon Harding, Jeff Croiter, Elaine J. McCarthy, Nevin Steinberg, and Jeff Sugg, also helped manage and organize the 1/52 Project.


 

“I am deeply grateful to the members of the Broadway community who have made this grant possible through their generous contributions, and to this year’s grant committee who shouldered the task of reading 62 applications from talented early career designers, conducting interviews with finalists, and making the impossible decisions of who should receive these grants from among so many worthy applicants. It breaks my heart we could not give funding to all of them,” said Beowulf Boritt. “We had double the number of applicants this year. As the theatre community as a whole faces grave financial challenges, I fear the financial burden falls the hardest on the talented early career artists who need some support.”

Stefiania Bulbarella, who is a 2022 1/52 Grant Recipient and is about to make her Broadway debut with Jaja’s African Hair Braiding, said, “The 1/52 Project was a before and after in my professional career. I now have the funds to rent a studio to work, bring animators to work along with me as I develop different projects. I no longer have to have animators working along with me in my room, instead I have a professional setup with optimum working conditions.”

The current donor list features Tyler Micoleau, Bill Rauch, Alexander Dodge, Sky Switser ,Hudson Scenic, Robert Kaplowitz, Lindsay Jones, Aaron Copp, Jeffrey Sugg, Michael Wolk , Abbie Strassler , Scott PinkneyKumiko Yoshii, Beowulf Boritt, Paloma Young, Hana Kim, Scott Lehrer, Japhy Weideman , Toni-LeslieJames, Tony Meola, JJ Janas, John Lee Beatty, Natasha Katz, Peter Nigrini, Nikiya Mathis, Tom Watson, Dane Laffrey, Justin Townsend, Kai Harada • Marilyn (Cookie) Jordan, Rachel Hauck, Jonathan Deans, Nevin Steinberg , Susan Hilferty, Walt Spangler, Roger Gindi, Wilson Chin, David Korins, Philip Rosenberg, Gregg Barnes, Richard Hudson, Julie Taymor, Derek McLane, Jim Bay, Bradley King, Kimie Nishikawa [Dots],  BT Whitehill,  Caroline Aquino,  Jiyoun ChangKen Posner , Thomas SchumacherMimi LienPaul Tazewell, Christopher Ash,  Donald HolderDavid Zinn,  Junkyard Dog,  Jenny & Jon Steingart, Alejo Vietti, Mikey Rolfe, Elaine J. McCarthyChristine Jones and David Rockwell.
 

The 1/52 Project is deeply grateful to all of its contributors but would like to acknowledge especially generous donations from Nevin Steinberg, the Tony Award-winning sound designer of Hadestown, Sweeney Todd and Hamilton; Paul Tazewell, the Tony Award-winning costume designer of Hamilton; David Korins, the Tony Award nominated set designer of Hamilton; Julie Taymor, Richard Hudson and Thomas Schumacher, the Tony Award-winning director/costume designer, set designer and producer, respectively, of the Lion King; and Derek McLane, the Tony Award-winning set designer of Moulin Rouge.

The 1/52 Project is partnered with TheFrontOffice Foundation, founded in 2019 by Director/Producer, Wendy C. Goldberg. TheFrontOffice is an entertainment development company that specializes in cross over content from live theater to new media. Fueled by the intersection of Goldberg's 20 years in the theater and her experiences as a Performance Director for Rockstar Games, TheFrontOffice develops content and stories for our times. TheFrontOffice Foundation, the company's charitable arm, was established in 2020 to support the live theatrical community during the time of industry shut down as well as the re-opening efforts. Our support happens in a multitude of ways including direct artist relief, commissions and grants. To date, we have partnered with TCG and SDCF on relief efforts. TheFrontOffice Foundation distributed additional mid-career relief grants to theater workers in March 2021 and to parents in June 2021. With corporate donors as well as individuals, these efforts have distributed a quarter of a million dollars in aid. TheFrontOffice works with Players Philanthropy Foundation as their Fiscal Sponsor.

The 1/52 Project is primarily funded by donations from professional designers working on Broadway, but anyone is welcome to make a tax-deductible contribution at: https://www.oneeveryfiftytwo.org/contribute.

Applications will open again in January 2024 for next year’s early career designer grants. For more information go to: oneeveryfiftytwo.org.

2023 DESIGNER RECIPIENT BIOS:

Lighting Designer Ebony M. Burton (she/her) is an Oakland-born, Brooklyn-based artist and lighting designer. She holds a BA in Psychology from Oberlin College and MFA in Design from NYU. Recent projects include the end/the beginning (NYLA), The Book of Lucy (Brown/Trinity), Marie It’s Time (Minor Theater), Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play (Brown/Trinity), and various collaborations with dance performer Blaze Ferrer, including Diamond Desert Cuck and Gusher. 

Lighting Designer Mextly Couzin recent design credits include: Das Rheingold (Seattle Opera); Merry Wives of Windsor (The Old Globe); Incendiary (Woolly Mammoth); West Side Story (Centro de Bellas Artes Puerto Rico); Straight Line Crazy (The Shed); La Belle et la Bête (Opera Paralléle); Tambo & Bones (Playwrights Horizons & Center Theatre Group). MFA University of California, San Diego ’20.  

Costume Designer Mika Eubanks is a Maryland native now based in New York. Eubanks received her MFA in Costume Design at the Yale School of Drama. Her theater design credits include King Lear, starring Andre De Shields (St. Louis Shakespeare Festival); Lessons in Survival: 1971 (The Vineyard Theatre); The XIXth (Old Globe); Flex (Lincoln Center Theater); and Twelfth Night (Yale Repertory Theatre/ Classical Theater of Harlem), for which she received the Connecticut Critic Circle Award for outstanding costume design.

Costume Designer Wilberth González is a Mexican American costume designer based in NYC. Credits include Costume Designer for “The Tempest” Shakespeare in the Park, and associate costume design on Broadway's Moulin Rouge and Mrs. Doubtfire. He received an Emmy nomination for his ACD work in Marvel's Moonknight, and has designed specialty costumes for HBO's Watchman, Oceans 8, and Rupaul's Dragrace. Upcoming work includes co-designing Real Women Have Curves at A.R.T. and The Little Mermaid in Sweden. 

Sound Designer Kathy Ruvuna is a New York based sound designer and composer. Recent credits include Bernarda’s Daughters (The New Group), Amani (National Black Theatre), Dark Disabled Stories (Bushwick Starr), Circle Jerk! Live (Fake Friends), In the Southern Breeze, Ni Mi Madre (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater). She holds a B.F.A. in Sound Design from The Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University and an M.F.A. in Sound Design from the Yale School of Drama.

Scenic Designer Gerardo Díaz Sánchez (he/they) is a NYC-based scenic designer from Guayama, Puerto Rico. Theater credits include Notes on Killing… (Soho Rep), La casa de la laguna (GALA Hispanic Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (Two River Theater), Pride and Prejudice (Long Wharf Theatre), El Huracán (Yale Repertory Theater), Twelfth Night (Two River Theater), TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever (JACK). Gerardo received their MFA from the Yale School of Drama, and BA in Design from the School of Architecture at the University of Puerto Rico. 

Hair/Wigs/Makeup Designer Destinee Steele is an Orlando-based designer who has had the privilege of designing wigs, hair and makeup from coast to coast. With a passion to establish equity in wig and makeup rooms across the country, she passionately serves as an advocate for actors and teaches supplementary skills to working artists. Destinee is the founder and CEO of the Beauty Menagerie LLC and is extremely honored to be awarded this grant.



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