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News & Notices
News From:
Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record
USITT Grants & Fellowships
Award Update for 2006

Timothy Kelly
Chair, Grants & Fellowships Committee

Innovative and timely research, the development of new technology, documentation of people and events from the past, and speculation into things yet to come are the trappings of the Grants & Fellowships Committee. Eddie Kook, who was one of the inventors of the Leko theatrical lighting instrument, is our creative hero and the man who said we must foster imagination in our industry.

That challenge was taken up by USITT and since 1985 well over $200,000 has been awarded to Institute Members in Project Grants and Fellowships. Monies from the Kook Fund, Commissioners Fund, and special allocations from the Institute make possible these research grants.

For the 2006 cycle of funding the G&F Committee received five unique proposals seeking funding for a wide range of topics. It is a difficult task to weigh one proposal against another and select the few that will fit within the available funds. The Committee, made up of nine individual USITT members, works through the winter months to give serious consideration to all aspects of the proposals received.

At the Annual Conference in Louisville deliberations were concluded and the Board ratified the Committee's recommendation to provide funding for two projects. Deborah Bell, whose insightful articles have been appearing in TD&T, was awarded funding to further her research into contemporary mask makers. She has emerged as one of the foremost experts with her analysis of the maskers craft and what this form means to theatrical and religious performance. The membership has already reaped the benefit of her work in this area through her written descriptions and will no doubt be further rewarded as she delves more deeply into the subject.

Some additional funding was provided to Del Unruh to complement that given him by the Publications Committee in support of his monograph on the life of Tharon Musser. This important work on one of our industry's leading designers is scheduled to debut at the 2007 Conference in Phoenix.

The G&F program has not been able to offer any Fellowship grants for the past few years but will be soliciting Fellowship applications in the fall of 2006. These grants are given up to a maximum amount of $15,000 and are to allow the recipient some assistance in pursuing scholarly research and personal career development. The Fellowship must have a coherent theme and result in important scholarly or creative activity in anticipation of a significant result.

USITT can take great pride in this program and all of the innovative research and development that has been subsidized over the past 20 years. It is from the generous support of the Membership for the Edward F. Kook Endowment Fund that we will be able to continue this extraordinary work. If you have read any of the articles in TD&T, enjoyed pursuing one of books in the Monograph series, or benefited from research enabled by the G&F Program, remember how it happens and what you can do to keep it going.

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Deborah Bell, winner of a 2006 Herbert D. Greggs Award, will conduct futher research on contemporary mask makers. Her work will be supported by a USITT Grant.

Photo/R. Finkelstein