The Colorado Theatre Guild has announced their plans for Henry judging for the rest of this year. They have decided not to judge productions through the rest of 2020 due to safety concerns for the judges and the need to be fiscally responsible for CTG members and for the organization.
During this time off, the Henry Committee and the board will be doing strategic work on the Henry award process (structuring, training plan, and finding systems that ensure the safety of those judging productions and those producing work). By taking the necessary break from active judging for the rest of the calendar year, we can truly address concerns that have been brought to us over the last few years such as inequities and biases that have occurred in the judging process, the desire for judging immersive categories, and organization of communication flow for judge requests.
Many of our judges are in the high-risk categories for anything outside of necessities for travel. Even if judges were willing to go to any events this fall, we do not have any safety process available for them to follow (confirming negative test results, reporting/checking in with the Henry Coordinator, contact tracing if a judge has been exposed or is exposing others to COVID-19). Judges live all throughout the state, and there is no protocol we can currently implement to manage/track/follow up with every single judge and company about reporting their health information confidentially. Also, many of our members are not able to produce live, in-person performances this fall, so it is unfair to go forward with judging until most if not all producing entities and the judges themselves can participate together.
Additionally, the CTG has been dealing with a drop in membership renewals, new members signing up, and donations since late March due to COVID-19. Taking a pause on the judging process is a vital necessity for the CTG to stay solvent going into 2021 and 2022 for future judging.
What we’re offering now:
For any member company that is producing during the time frame judging would occur in 2020: normally remounts of productions cannot be judged. We will waive that restriction to ensure that the shows you produced now can be judged later if you choose to remount the production in 2021 or later. We will be tracking who in our membership produced eligible work in 2020 so that when the requests come in later, we can assign judges.
We understand that there are theatre companies producing now and that most are following all city/county/state health recommendations/processes. To those who are following public health protocols while producing in-person events, thank you. The massive amount of work you are doing to ensure safety for those you work with and for patrons attending these events deserves recognition.
We understand a lot of companies cannot (due to public health ordinances or finances associated with producing during this time) or do not want to produce any in-person programming until caseloads go down or until there is a vaccine. Some are currently producing online events. To those producing this way, thank you. Finding ways to produce remotely and digitally takes a lot of work, and while we cannot judge digital productions, we know that you’re still producing works to help us in these difficult times.
We understand all of these decisions, and we have been discussing what we all want to do next for our judging pool and for producers. We will be assessing these situations as they arise closer to the end of the calendar year to determine if judging will occur in 2021.
To reiterate our decision and to answer some potential questions:
Why are we hearing about this now?
-We wanted to wait until after this year’s Henry Awards to come to a final decision given the continuing rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the state and with the school year starting up for more people. Numbers of cases vary drastically in cities and counties, and general statewide health advice is to not travel or be with groups of people unless absolutely necessary, even when taking every possible precaution.
What if my company is producing events now?
-As much as you may be taking necessary precautions, we do not have a way to adequately handle the logistics of safely sending judges to shows and then doing follow-up health checks given the spread of COVID-19. Our primary concerns during this time are the health and safety of our volunteer judges and those wanting to bring judges to their performance spaces. We understand that groups producing now are doing everything they can to keep their staff, production teams, and performers safe and healthy. We trust that you are doing that. We have our current limitations, and we know we are not comfortable sending out over 100 people to various locations throughout the state.
I’m a judge, and I feel ok to go out to shows. Why can’t I do that if I want to?
-Thank you for stating that! It’s great that you want to support the community this way. However, we collectively are not comfortable sending you all over the state when there are different ordinances in every city and county in Colorado and with no way of safely tracking every single judge.
What about outdoor events, events where everyone has space between them, and are wearing masks while performing? Can’t those be judged because there is less risk?
-Right now, most of our members cannot produce, perform, or attend events in their cities and counties. Only a small amount can per public health guidelines, so to have such a small pool of work count for this season right now when most cannot make work is unfair to all our members. We are taking the approach that if we cannot safely send judges to indoor performances throughout the entire state, then we cannot send judges to outdoor performances either. In order to make any judging decision fair, we are addressing this to our entire membership pool.
How will this affect Henry Award nominations?
-We haven’t decided yet. This may mean we have a limited season of judging. It may mean that we host a general celebration and festive event instead of an awards ceremony if judging does not occur this season. We’re assessing this regularly through the Henry Committee and the Board of Directors, and as soon as a decision is made, we will share that information publicly.
What will happen between now and 2021?
-The Henry Committee will be doing strategic restructuring of the Henry judging process. The feedback we’ve received over the last few years needs assessment and implementation, and these next months will allow us to address:
–training/retraining of judges
–biases in judging
–recruitment of new judges
–coordination/communication between judges, producers, and CTG
–technological upgrades to assist everyone
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