The New York Innovative Theatre Awards has celebrated New York City's independent theatre artists for more than 15 years, by honoring those who have achieved artistic excellence in the Off-Off Broadway/Indie theatre realm.
Here are some of those recipients!
We are very pleased to present the recipients of the NYIT Awards 2021 Honorary Awards. These are individuals, companies and businesses who have made a difference in the Indie/OOB Community, in our past and our present. We showcase them to celebrate their work and to help inspire other theatrical artists as they impact our future!
HONORARY AWARD RECIPIENTS
The Caffe Cino Award: The Parsnip Ship is a podcast play company that amplifies bold artists for audiences who crave accessible stories and storytellers through live events and audio podcasts, creating communities in person and digitally. Through our work, we revolutionize the way you hear theater. Launched in Spring 2015, the Parsnip Ship re-imagines the concept of the radio play by specifically focusing on stories that differ in form, content, and plot by underproduced playwrights. Anti-racism & anti-oppression is embedded in their work, both in their curation and in how they collaborate. During this crisis, the Parsnip Ship held many weekends of virtual deep-work sessions known as the Parsnip Pop-up, often co-hosted with other theatre companies. This was a virtual space for artists from all over the country to gather into the same zoom room for deep work sessions. It was a way for folks to get work done during a very isolated time without feeling so alone, and a way to hold each other accountable for their work goals during that session. READ MORE HERE
The Ellen Stewart Award: Indie Theater Fund and IndieSpace was born from a deeply rooted connection to the indie theater company and frustration with systemic inequities that kept the entire community from thriving. Helmed by Randi Berry, (who received a Champion Award, read more about that down below), they provide radically transparent, responsive and equity-focused funding, real estate programs, professional development, and advocacy to individual artists, theater companies, and indie venues. IndieSpace and The Indie Theater Fund are YOUR service orgs and they continually grow each and every day as a response to what the community needs. READ MORE HERE AND HERE
The Artistic Achievement Award: Penny Arcade, who’s mission is to “assuage sorrow, break down isolation, create community and to support individuality” creates experimental theatre and long form performance art which examines the borders between theatre and performance with multilayered soundtracks and often employ video both live and pre-recorded. Her work is diaristic, journalistic and is "cultural critique you can dance to!" READ MORE HERE
The Outstanding Stage Manager Award: Rachel April, exemplifies professionalism and care in her work. She was outstanding at gracefully navigating both the artists needs and producers needs.
The Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award: Chris Weikel, who’s work tends to be theatrical, magical realism with a decidedly queer sensibility. His latest work, NELLY is "messy, and in most commercial settings utterly un-produceable. It has sixteen characters (twelve actors with doubling), multiple locations, dueling time periods, eighteenth century drag, red-coated soldiers, go-go boys, ballads, pop music, and poetry. I love the independent theater community because most of the people I collaborate with could give a rat’s ass [about the current fixation] for single set, six character plays." The Doric Wilson Award is administered by The Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award Committee.
And introducing our first ever recipients of The Indie Theatre Champion Awards:
Aimee Todoroff - Through her work with the League of Independent Theatre, Ms. Todoroff fought tirelessly for space, grants, safety and political acknowledgement for indie theatre artists. LIT's mission is to advocate politically for independent theatre artists, but Ms. Todoroff ramped up that mission gloriously right when we needed her the most. She listened to her community, took on dozens of layers of bureaucracy, and taught politicians why paying heed to artists was not only the right thing to do, but was beneficial to their own positions, and the needs of this city ... our city. READ MORE HERE
Ximena Garnica - Working with other community leaders, Ms. Garnica created the Cultural Solidarity Fund. The CSF works in tandem with arts organizations and funders to provide emergency grants to artists and cultural workers left behind by other forms of COVID-19 relief. CSF has helped over 500 people meet their basic needs and inspired new approaches to arts philanthropy, and Ms. Garnica is the driving force behind these measures. She has attended City forums, reached out to politicians and agencies to gather information, and shared that with indie theatre members. She has been a tireless advocate for ensuring independent artists of color are not excluded from arts funding and arts support, as well as reimagining our arts ecosystem in a more equitable way. READ MORE HERE
Episcopal Actors Guild - Founded in 1923, and housed on the second floor of New York's landmarked Church of the Transfiguration, also known as "The Little Church Around the Corner," the mission of the EAG has always been to provide emergency aid and support to professional performers of all faiths who are undergoing financial crisis. EAG is a nonsectarian charitable membership organization that welcomes the participation of all those who are interested in celebrating the talent and dedication needed to sustain a career in the performing arts. Their mission was put to the test these past many months, and they rose to the challenge - working to help theatre artists both fiscally and directly from their pantry. They created "Sustainable Conversations,” a monthly virtual forum that provides a sustainable, safe space for conversations centered on race and racism in America and the arts.. This forum is free and open to the public, and has tackled topics such as racism in casting, pay inequality in theatre, George Floyd, AAPI hate crimes, and Racism in Housing. READ MORE HERE
JACKNY - JACK is a Brooklyn based, OBIE-winning performance-meets-civic space. JACK presents over 100 theater, music and dance performances a year and holds community conversations on issues of importance to the community, such as REPARATIONS. This series is JACK’s effort to address head-on the challenge of racial discrimination – not only of the past, but for current injustices in housing, policing, hiring and incarceration. The series includes community conversations, artistic performances, panel discussions and interactive workshops curated with neighbors and members of the artistic and activist community in New York. Topics have included historical reparations efforts for Black Americans in the United States, intersectionality with reparations efforts by Indigenous peoples and others, and past successes in achieving reparations for particular movements or peoples. JACKNY's hands-on and direct manner of promoting awareness and progress have been of great benefit to the indie theatre community.
LatinX Playwrights Circle - LatinX Playwrights Circle aims to build a network of LatinX playwrights nationwide in order to promote, develop and elevate their work while making their plays accessible to theater makers looking to find the next generation of American Storytellers. Their unique contribution to our community during these trying times was the formation of weekly virtual dance parties that allowed weary hearts and souls the chance to simply let loose, unwind and step away from the madness for a brief time. They are continuing to support their community through their "Greater Good Commission and Festival" which involves matching LatinX playwrights with grants. READ MORE HERE
Randi Berry - Randi Berry is an indie theater maker/actor/writer/producer turned service org Executive Director of the IndieSpace Fund and Independent Theater Fund. While the ITF has done wonderful work for our community for many years (see the Ellen Stewart Award), Randi Berry became even more of an Indie Theatre Champion during the past horrific months. She tackled Covid head on by being the first to hand out grants to artists in need, offered advice to theatre venues navigating landlord negotiation, worked with others to create the CSF to support additional emergency funding, and more. She also joined the fight against white supremacy and helped to create the "Big Learn" to support racial equity training, while financially supporting other organizations as they did their own training. READ MORE HERE AND HERE