February 2016

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February 2016

News From Mark Shanda, USITT President

Supporting Meaningful, Productive Awards

Mark Shanda USITT President

As part of its corporate identity, the Institute’s by-laws specifically call out our obligation to “present awards for excellence and recognize the contributions made by individuals and organizations to promote research, innovation, and creativity in the performing arts.”

As can be seen by the illustrious group of individuals we will honor at our upcoming 56th Annual Conference & Stage Expo, the Board of Directors takes the mandate quite seriously. We ask all of those whom we honor to spend time with our members to share thoughts and ideas we hope serve to inspire achievement in others.

We also often will curate the design and technology works of others to share the best and brightest, also for inspiration, shining a proverbial spotlight on that which often goes under appreciated. In our pursuit of providing appropriate recognition of individual artists and their work, we often find ourselves making judgments about our peers. In fact, it is quite difficult to select a panel of adjudicators who would have no connection to those being considered for almost any recognition in our organization.

At the November 20 meeting of the Board of Directors, the following statement was adopted as policy:

As a part of fulfilling the Institute's mission, USITT frequently curates awards and exhibitions, bestows honors, and selects participants in competitive programming that can involve the evaluation of the work of its members.

All organizers must avoid the possibility of favoritism and other perceived inequities that will diminish the credibility of the award or event. Adjudicators and respondents must recuse themselves whenever a conflict or perceived conflict is present, and applicants should provide blind entries whenever possible. The curatorial process must be transparent; including rubrics and written feedback that are available upon request.

We took this action, not in response to any particular abuse of the past, but to be proactive in the declaration of our desire to be the most ethical organization possible as competitive selections are made. Our selection processes for awards, honors, grants, and opportunities are constantly examined through the lens of “member benefit.”

While not every one of our members will be named a Rising Star, have a Commission present a Distinguished Achievement Award to them, or have their work selected for exhibition at the next Prague Quadrennial, every member benefits from being exposed to those selected for these honors and hopefully aspires to join their ranks one day.

One opportunity that every member can seize to aid us in our goals is to actively nominate both students and colleagues for appropriate recognition. In addition, we ask that you make others aware of the grants and fellowship resources of the Institute, submit your own work for consideration in adjudicated exhibitions such as Tech or Design Expo, and take the time to see the work of others on display and meet with those who have won awards. Working together, we can truly help fulfill a vital part of our organizational mission.

Mark Shanda

We'd like to hear your comments on this story.
Please e-mail Mark at Shanda.1@osu.edu.