Grants & Fellowships Provide Funding for Institute Members
In January of 1985, then USITT President Randy Earle, established the Endowment Management Committee to assist in overseeing the Kook Fund and to initiate a Grants & Fellowships Program. Guidelines were drawn up that would allow the Institute to sponsor research in subject matter of interest to our membership.
From 1985 through 2009, Institute members have been awarded a total of $246,554 in the form of Project Grant and Fellowship funding. There have been 36 Project Grants given to investigate a wide variety of subjects including: Controls for moving scenery, Flat pattern exchange, USITT assistance to the Socialist countries, Theatre of the Fraternity FOFMO, Virtual reality interface, Theatrical costume designs, Shop built goniophotometer, International design archives, Circus in America, and a host of others.
Starting in 1998, funding for 12 Fellowships has been provided to assist Institute members in exploring topics in their areas of specialization. Fellowship investigations have delved into: Japanese Yuzen Dyeing Techniques, Costume designer Percy Anderson, An international perspective of lighting design and Mexican mask makers, to mention just a few examples.
It was one of the founding fathers, Eddie Kook, who insisted that the Institute invest in research and development as well as the scholarly pursuits of its members. Included in USITT’s Vision Statement is this sentence: USITT is dedicated to the professional development of those who are an integral part of the performing arts and entertainment industry.
It is that basic tenet of the Institute that is at the core of the Grants and Fellowships program which encourages invention, imagination and creativity. The original Endowment Management Committee has morphed into the Grants & Fellowships Committee and now takes responsibility for soliciting and adjudicating grant and fellowship proposals. This program has met a critical need for the Institute and has become a vital resource for funding successful petitioners.
Competition for these limited funds is rigorous. Annually, one proposal is weighed against another in the difficult task of selecting the most outstanding projects and critical areas of study. Two Fellowships were awarded in Cincinnati. They went to Deborah Bell for her research into Mexican Mask Makers and Collectors, and to Bruce Auerbach for his study of the History of Lighting: Philosophy, Science, and Aesthetics.
In addition to the Grants & Fellowship work, every three years since its inception in Boston during the 1991 Conference, the Committee has produced the ever-popular Tri-Annual Art Auction. The auction raises money for the Kook Fund.
Those who have witnessed and participated in this raucous event can attest to the additional excitement it sets off on the Stage Expo floor. Auctions have taken place in Boston, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Denver, Minneapolis, Louisville, and Cincinnati. The total raised for the Kook Fund by this event is over $75,000. The auction just concluded in Cincinnati brought in $11,137 through the generosity of our members. Many colleagues graciously donated their works of theatre art for the auction as well as “treasures” unearthed from back stages, warehouses, and cluttered office spaces for the garage sale.
The Vision Statement goes on to say: USITT will actively promote and support research and development today that creates the theatre of the future. Through the Grants & Fellowships program, which is paid for by General Operating Funds, the Kook Fund, and other generous donations from the Membership, USITT will continue to invest in the future of our industry and our members.