Theatre Awards UK is to feature its first ever category voted for by the public this year.
The event, which is organised by the Theatrical Management Association and will again be sponsored by The Stage, will be held at the City of London’s Guildhall on October 28. For the first time, the best touring production award will be voted for by the general public.
The vote will be hosted online by The Stage – at www.thestage.co.uk – and will take place in September. The Stage is one of five principal sponsors and is the media partner for Theatre Awards UK, which recognises excellence in theatre across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
TMA chief executive Julian Bird said the decision to open up the voting to the public was part of a wider push to raise the profile of the awards, which are generally considered to be the regional version of the Olivier Awards. Last year, the honours were held under their new name for the first time, having previously been known as the TMA Theatre Awards.
Bird told The Stage: “When we relaunched these major UK-wide theatre awards, we were keen to use them as an opportunity to celebrate what is going on around the UK.
“Raising the profile of what is going on in theatres up and down the country – by giving the public an opportunity to vote – is one of the ways we’re looking to do that. Rather than just have professionals or critics vote for the winners, we’re giving the public a direct opportunity to influence the results.”
As well as hosting the vote for the best touring production award, The Stage will also present its annual special award for outstanding contribution to British theatre, which last year was won by veteran director Peter Hall.
Alongside The Stage, the awards are also being sponsored by W&P Longreach, Harbottle and Lewis, Theatre Tokens and White Light.
TMA president Rachel Tackley added: “We had tremendous feedback for the awards in 2011, which really began to provide an accurate reflection of the excitement, quality and diversity of the best in regional theatre up and down the UK today.
“We are delighted that so many organisations have been generous in helping us take the awards to another level in 2012.”