Jeff Committee Announces Study to Identify Areas Where Awards Can Improve

Opinion research firm Taproot+ has agreed to conduct a study for the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee this summer to identify current perceptions of the organization and where the Jeff Awards can improve.

Recently the committee has been under scrutiny for a lack of diversity, particularly since Pulitzer-winning playwright Tracy Letts snubbed the awards publicly. And for their rules, which some say cause a financial burden on smaller theaters (a minimum number of performances is required to be eligible). Jeff Committee members we have spoken to say that the committee is eager for improved diversity, though no concrete steps have been publicly announced prior to this project.

Planning is underway for two phases of research. The first phase involves phone interviews with a cross-section of Chicago-area managing and artistic directors. These calls are expected to take place in late June and early July. Information gathered will be used to develop an online survey for the second phase of the project, which will be distributed to all theater companies in the Chicago area later in July. Results will be shared with the committee in the aggregate to ensure confidentiality of individuals and theater companies interviewed.

Taproot+ volunteers will conduct the research, with the well credentialed Xiaoyue (Sherry) Pang as project lead. Taproot+ is a free program for any registered nonprofit in the United States, which focuses on short-term projects. It is a program of the Taproot Foundation, which connects nonprofits and social change organizations with skilled volunteers who share their expertise pro bono. Through its programs, business professionals deliver marketing, strategy, HR and IT solutions that organizations need to achieve their missions.

The 55 Jeff Committee members volunteer to see hundreds of shows per year and produce two awards ceremonies that celebrate excellence in the Chicago theater community.

About author

Jason Epperson

Jason is a producer, manager, and designer with 17 years of experience in Chicago, New York, and in the touring market. In 2015, he founded Lotus Theatricals - the publisher of Performink, and an independent commercial producing company - with Abigail Trabue.

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