Oct. 18, 2017 12:57 pm

The Barrymore Awards are funding 4 socially conscious artists and theatre companies

The "Tonys of Philadelphia" are coming up Oct. 30. Four winners will receive grant money for their work in highlighting the local arts community, theatre education and more.

Barrymore Awards.

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The annual Barrymore Awards, known as the “Tonys of Philadelphia,” will return to celebrate the region’s theatre community in less than two weeks.

But for Theatre Philadelphia, the nonprofit that organizes the now-22-year-old awards, the event on Monday, Oct. 30, is more than just handing trophies to winning artists and theater companies — it’s also about providing grants to support them in continuing their work.

This year, a total of $77,500 will be regranted to the winners and finalists of four specific awards, thanks to the generosity of several philanthropists and foundations (Theatre Philadelphia itself is not a grantmaking organization). They are the F. Otto Haas Award, Virginia Brown Martin Philadelphia Award, June & Steve Wolfson Award and Victory Theatre Education Award.

Check out the nominees here.

Each of these awards also have some socially conscious elements to them:

Theatre Philadelphia introduced the June & Steve Wolfson and Victory Theatre Education awards as two new additions in 2010 and 2016, respectively, which Leigh Goldenberg, the nonprofit’s first executive director, said is representative of how she and the board have been thinking about the needs of Philly’s theater community.

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Funds and awareness are two needs that Goldenberg sees the Barrymore Awards filling nicely, albeit with one caveat: More often than not, the original shows being celebrated through the awards are usually over by the time the ceremony happens.

“The regranting and the attention we’re bringing to these artists … will hopefully show people who to keep an eye on for the future and see what they do next,” she said.

For Goldenberg, the stories and work that local artists and theaters are producing should be about engaging Philadelphia as a whole.

“Those are the things I really care about,” she said, “making sure that theatre has this broader impact. I think it’s where really important conversations happen and we need audiences to bring it all together.”

Another big goal? Inclusivity in casting and award submission requirements.

Goldenberg said Theatre Philadelphia is looking into it, and that she realizes certain types of shows like pop-up performances or sensory-friendly performances may not fit the requirements as they are currently established: “We’re looking to make sure that when we talk about theatre in Philadelphia, we’re talking about all of it.”


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