Board of Florida's Carbonell Awards to Suspend Voting in 2009 to Reconsider Mission, Methods

News   Board of Florida's Carbonell Awards to Suspend Voting in 2009 to Reconsider Mission, Methods
Citing the high price of gas as a factor, the board of directors of the Carbonell Awards, Inc., announced Nov. 17 that voting for 2009 productions would be suspended so the organization can reevaluate how it operates.

Don't expect a traditional 2010 awards ceremony, which would have recognized the excellence of South Florida performances of the 2009 calendar year.

"The not-for-profit organization which administers South Florida's oldest and most prestigious arts honors will suspend some of its activities to focus on examining its mission and how best to adapt its programs to meet challenges in the current marketplace," according to a statement.

Carbonell Awards, recognizing the best shows and performances in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, will be bestowed in 2009 for productions which opened during the 2008 calendar year. The organization is suspending judging for productions which open in 2009.

"This year saw our tremendously dedicated volunteer judging panel pay $4 a gallon for gas," stated Leslie J. Feldman, publisher emeritus of Playbill Magazine and Carbonell Awards, Inc. board president. "That was followed by the untimely passing of executive director Jack Zink, a rapid decline in the regional media pool which formed the basis of our judging procedure for so long and a failing economy which threatens both donations to our organization and ticket sales to our annual awards ceremony. The clear message of 2008 is that change happens and it's time to take stock."

The organization, named after sculptor Manuel Carbonell who designed and donated its award statuettes, was created in 1976 by South Florida's arts critics and columnists. Its mission "recognizes and honors excellence in theatre and the arts throughout South Florida, and in so doing, promotes theaters and the arts to the community as a whole, further stimulates development of the professional theater community and encourages the development of the region's future theater artists through educational scholarships." Carbonell Awards, Inc. has reorganized itself twice in its history: opting to jointly administer the program with The Theatre League of South Florida in 1994, and, then again in 2002, when the South Florida Critics Circle voted to turn the awards program over to a new, community-based board and administration as it exists today.

"I want to thank our panelists who donate their time and money to travel from Miami Lakes to Jupiter," said Feldman. "Since the beginning of the year, 73 eligible productions have opened at 21 regional theatres. If you lived in a central point in Broward, you would drive more than 3,600 miles to see them all."

In the current voting process, panelists are not required to see all productions. However, some judges are required to see all shows which reach a secondary level of award consideration. Panelists traveling to the 32 shows that have obtained that level to date "would have traveled an average of more than 1,800 miles."

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.

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