As a volunteer-centered organization, we are engaging in a thoughtful restructuring of organization-wide governance and leadership, including boards and committees in order to prioritize anti-racist and anti-oppressive values. As our community begins the transition back to more in-person performances, we felt it was critical to make some changes to the nomination process for Helen Hayes judges and provide bias-awareness training to them before we resume adjudicating productions. This is a good time to reevaluate our process given the Covid-19 pandemic's impact on live performances and the work we have been doing to consider the biases that have been part of our institutional systems.
As we continue to work as a community to further practices that embrace anti-racism and anti-oppression, Theatre Washington has made the following decisions, in deliberations with the Adjudication Committee, for the Helen Hayes Awards:
- The current Theatre Washington bodies related to the Helen Hayes Awards – the Adjudication Committee and the Helen Hayes Awards Judges – will be reevaluated and restructured:
- We will create guidelines and policies on how we actively recruit, seat, train, and retain new Helen Hayes Awards judges;
- We will develop a process for reseating or releasing current judges;
- All judges will receive bias awareness training.
- To allow time and capacity for these changes, no productions will be adjudicated in the calendar year 2021.
- Adjudication of productions will resume at the start of the calendar year 2022 and the full calendar year of eligible productions will be awarded and celebrated in Spring 2023.
- At this time, we will not incorporate the adjudication of virtual or digital productions into the Helen Hayes Awards.
We are currently planning a Helen Hayes Celebration in Spring 2022 with more details to follow in the coming months, along with updates on the adjudication process for 2022.
The Adjudication Committee members are: Rebecca Ende Lichtenberg, Chair, Tẹmídayọ Amay, Maggie Boland, Laura Connors Hull, Dane Figueroa Edidi, Farah Lawal Harris, Jojo Ruf, and Deb Sivigny. We are grateful to the Black, Indigenous, people of color, queer, and trans independent theatre-makers, and specifically committee members Tẹmídayọ Amay, Dane Figueroa Edidi, and Farah Lawal Harris, who have shared their personal experience and perspective, and pushed us in recent conversations to make our priorities and decisions clear.