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UK Theatre Awards introduce new categories and allow members to nominate in 2019

Award presenter Ian McKellen with winner, actor Maxine Peake at the UK Theatre Awards, Photo: Pamela Raith Award presenter Ian McKellen with winner, actor Maxine Peake at the UK Theatre Awards, Photo: Pamela Raith
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The UK Theatre Awards will revamp its judging process for 2019 to include input from its member venues.

UK Theatre’s annual awards have been running for 27 years, and from next year, members will play a role in the judging process for the onstage award categories.

The membership body said it had made the changes following conversations with members and other industry stakeholders.

Members will be able to nominate a production, creative or performer, from an organisation other than their own, in each of the categories, which include musical and play performances, directing, writing and design as well as the prizes for individual productions, opera and dance.

Members’ nominations will then be taken into account as part of the external judging process.

At present, the awards are solely decided by the external panel.

There will also be changes to the off-stage awards, including a revamped list of categories to champion theatre’s role in society and reflect the “ever evolving theatre sector”.

The offstage categories will be digital innovation, excellence in arts education, excellence in inclusivity, excellence in touring and workforce development.

These will replace the current roster of ‘management awards’, which include achievement in marketing/audience development and promotion of diversity.

Currently, this selection of awards are decided through an application and panel judging process and this will remain the same. Applications can be made throughout the year.

Further changes include removing the public vote element from the most welcoming theatre category.

Instead, theatres can apply to be considered and a judging panel made up of UK Theatre members and awards sponsors will shortlist three venues, visiting each one as part of the final process.

The Gielgud Award and outstanding contribution award will remain the same, however the Clothworkers’ Foundation Award, which provides up to £150,000 to one theatre each year, will not take place in 2019. UK Theatre said it hoped to continue working with the foundation from 2020.

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