"Responding to overwhelming support throughout the community and around the nation," the board of directors of Carbonell Awards, Inc. announced Dec. 5 that "it has rescinded its previous decision and will continue the voting process for productions which open in 2009."
In order to re-evaluate its mission, the organizers announced in the fall that a voting process for 2009 shows would not take place.
"No one, especially the Carbonell board, was happy with the prospect of having an asterisk in the records book for 2009," stated Leslie J. Feldman, Carbonell Awards, Inc. board president. "The response to our planned suspension of 2009 judging has validated the importance and relevance of the 33 year old awards. The community has rallied together and has pledged to work as a united front to confront the challenges that lie ahead."
The Theatre League of South Florida took a leadership role in facilitating discussions about the future of the Carbonell Awards within the theatre community and appealed to the board to reconsider judging the 2009 theatrical year.
In its request to the board, League president Meredith Lasher wrote, "The awards provide us with legitimacy when seeking grants, boost our negotiating powers when attracting talent and increase our revenues and ticket sales. The longevity of the Carbonell Awards has forged a foundation for theatre in the region." "One of the main factors in the boards initial decision to step back for a year, was our determination that we could not make alterations to the judging process many theatres had desired before the new year," board member Jay Harris said. "Meredith and the League took up that challenge and demonstrated that by working together we could ensure that these historic awards continue uninterrupted. We look forward to the pledged support of the League and its members."
The judging system that was in effect throughout 2008 "will undergo minor improvements as the non-profit organization evaluates broader revisions to respond to changing times including diminished media representation among the voter pool and the financial challenges posed by the current economy," according to a statement. "Revised policies and procedures will be furnished to all participating theatres prior to the start of the new judging process on Jan. 1."
Carbonell Awards for theatrical presentations mounted in 2008 will be announced in the spring of 2009. The organization, named after sculptor Manuel Carbonell who designed and donated its award statuettes, was created in 1976. The annual Carbonell Awards ceremony raises funds for students in region to study at accredited colleges and universities for careers in journalism, and the visual and performing arts. Since the first, single $500 scholarship was given in 1978, dozens of students in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties have received a total of approximately $100,000.