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Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record

Richard Heusel, left, presents the KM Fabrics, Inc. Technical Production Award, and the special shuttle which symbolizes it, to Frederick W. Ramage in 1999 during the USITT Annual Conference & Stage Expo held in Toronto.

Photos/Tom Thatcher

by Elynmarie Kazle
VP Membership & Development

Generosity of KM, Cohens
Allow Changes for
Young Designers Awards

Gifts from two long-time supporters of USITT will secure permanent funding of two Awards for Young Designers & Technicians in the Performing Arts. The generosity of KM Fabrics Inc. and Robert and Sharon Cohen have made this change possible.

KM Fabrics Inc., led by founder Richard K. Heusel and supported by current president Robert C. Lewis, have given gifts which have earned income enabling the KM Fabrics, Inc. Technical Production Award to becomes the first permanently funded YD&T award. "We are pleased that these awards will have a long future in USITT. Mr. Heusel was the first supporter of this awards program and Mr. Cohen was right in there with his support in year two. It is great to see this commitment to future generations of designers and technicians," said Bill Byrnes who was USITT Vice-President for Membership & Development when the program was instituted.

Following almost immediately on the status change for the KM award, Robert and Sharon Cohen have given a most generous contribution of $25,000 to establish the Robert E. Cohen Award for Sound Achievement. Assisting in securing this support was USITT Fellow Randy Earle.

This award, for a graduate or beginning professional who has studied technical theatre with an emphasis in sound design, will be given for the first time under its new name at the 2006 Annual Convention in Louisville.  Mr. Cohen, founder and President of Clear-Com Intercom Systems from 1969 to 1997, was responsible for developing the closed circuit headset intercom system for the theatre which has become the industry standard. USITT President John Uthoff states that "It is most appropriate and gratifying that Mr. Cohen has stepped forward to make this generous contribution that will support some of our talented up and coming young designers."

These generous contributions make way for other positive changes in the YD&T Awards program. With Mr. and Mrs. Cohen providing permanent funding of the Sound Achievement Award, Chris Exelby and Clear-Com Communication Systems have stepped forward to sponsor USITT's YDT Stage Management Award for undergraduate and graduate stage managers for 2006. This award, given to a promising young stage manager is also given in honor of a seasoned senior stage manager. This change in sponsorship seems very appropriate given the role that the theatrical headset plays in the job of the stage manager. 

With that change, Robert Thurston and Stage Decoration & Supplies, Inc. have stepped forward to sponsor the W. Oren Parker Scene Design Award (established by Charles E. Williams), given to an undergraduate scene designers, for which funding had been sought.

Because of the changes, and the continuation of YD&T sponsorships by Barbizon, Zelma Weisfeld, Rose Brand, and Kryolan, the program will continue presenting nine awards in 2006. USITT greatly appreciates the involvement by these individuals and companies who step forward as sponsors which ensures the continuation of this important USITT Program. 

For more information on how make a naming contribution to fully fund an award for USITT's Awards for Young Designers & Technicians program, please contact Elynmarie Kazle, Vice-President for Membership & Development at (330) 836-2323 ext. 13 or e-mail

For guidelines and applications for the 2006 awards, visit Nominations deadline is November 1, 2005.

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Robert Cohen, an innovator in sound, received a USITT Special Citation in 2003. He has agreed to fund the Award for Young Designers & Technicians in the Performing Arts Sound Achievement Award.