Tony Award Productions sent a letter July 14 to First-Nighters that reads, "After careful consideration, the Tony Awards Management Committee has determined that Tony-voting privileges will no longer be extended to members of the First Night Press List, commencing with the 2009-2010 season.
"Please note that this change in no way affects your inclusion on the First Night Press List. As you know, a committee of Broadway press agents develops and administers the First Night Press List, and it does not fall under the purview of Tony Award Productions, The Broadway League, or the American Theatre Wing.
"In making this decision, the Tony Management Committee took into account that members of the First Night Press List will of course continue to have the opportunity to express their critical opinions in reviews and other coverage of the theatre season. In addition, the Management Committee took into consideration the fact that certain publications and individual critics have historically pursued a policy of abstaining from voting on entertainment awards in general, to avoid any possible conflicts of interest in fulfilling their primary responsibilities as journalists."
In past seasons only press on the First Night list were eligible to vote for the Tony Awards. Those on the Second Night list — journalists who saw productions after the official opening night — did not vote in the awards.
This new ruling affects approximately 100 voters, according to a Tony spokesperson. About 800 people voted for the recent Tony Awards; that number would now be approximately 700, a decrease of nearly 13 percent. Voters will now include "the board of directors and designated members of the advisory committee of the American Theatre Wing; members of the governing boards of Actors' Equity Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, United Scenic Artists, and the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers; . . . members of the Theatrical Council of the Casting Society of America; and voting members of The Broadway League," according to the Tony website.
For more information visit www.tonyawards.com.
The Tonys are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. Nina Lannan is chairman and Charlotte St. Martin is executive director of the Broadway League. Theodore S. Chapin is chairman and Howard Sherman is executive director of the American Theatre Wing.