August 2013

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July 2013

News & Notices

New YD&T Craftsmanship Award for 2014

Janet Gramza Communications Associate

Bernhard Works, right, presents the 2013 Fred Buerki Golden Hammer Award in honor of his mentor to Dan Perez.

Photo/Daryl Pauley

USITT Fellow Bernhard (known to all as Bernie) Works has sponsored the Frederick A. Buerki "Golden Hammer" Scenic Technology Award for young artists for 15 years, and in 2011 committed to fund it permanently.

To some benefactors, that would be enough. But a couple years ago, while waiting to present the Golden Hammer at USITT's Young Designers & Technicians Awards ceremony, Bernie watched the honorees going onstage and realized he – and USITT -- could do more.

"It occurred to me that the awards were mostly for student achievements as they were entering the job market," he said. "In fact, most had already accepted a place with a production company or scenic company. Almost all my Golden Hammer awards were for those finishing up an MFA. That set me to thinking about all the young undergraduates who serve in the trenches under Technical Directors, and who also run the performances."

Until now, only a few YD&T Awards were specifically for undergrads. The others – in areas including sound, costume, scene, makeup, and lighting design; stage management, and scenic technology – go mainly to students completing or having just completed a graduate degree.

That realization led Bernie to establish a new YD&T award that's more about encouragement than recognition, he said.

The USITT Master Craftsmanship Award will go to a graduating college senior headed for grad school or an apprenticeship/entry-level position in the "under-recognized areas" of scene painting, stage properties, costume making, or lighting technology, said Michael Mehler, chair of USITT's Awards Committee.

"The area recognized will shift annually," he said, beginning with a Master Craftsmanship Award in Scene Painting to be presented at USITT's 2014 Annual Conference & Stage Expo March 26-29 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Bernie, officially Bernhard R. Works, Ph.D – professor emeritus of design and technical production at the University of Illinois and 2011 recipient of USITT's Joel E. Rubin Founders Award – will be there to present the award, as well as his Golden Hammer in memory of theatre design professor Fred Buerki.

But he said he encourages others to join him in sponsoring the new award. Like the other YD&T awards, it comes with a $1,000 cash prize and free registration to the Conference & Stage Expo.

"I will continue to make annual contributions," Bernie said. "But others are welcome to contribute along with me until the award is fully funded." He said anyone who donates to the award should be eligible to present it, at the discretion of the Awards Committee.

The craftsman award brings the total of YD&T Awards to 11. Another USITT educator, Costumer Judy Adamson, recently founded the new Barbara Matera Award in Costume Making in memory of her late mentor. (See story in July Sightlines).

YD&T Nominations open Sept. 1.