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The 1/52 Project Announces $88,000 in Grants Distributed to Seven Early Career Designer Recipients

The 1/52 Project, the financial grant program founded by Tony Award-winning set designer Beowulf Boritt, has selected the second round of seven early-career designer recipients to benefit from $88,000 in grants. Applicants were chosen based on talent, creativity, innovation, and potential for future excellence in the professional theatrical field, and each of the recipients will receive grants up to $15,000.

An Award Reception is planned for Wednesday, September 27 at West Bank Café's Beechman Theatre, sponsored by Hudson Scenic Studio.

The 2023 recipients are lighting designer Ebony M. Burton; lighting designer Mextly Couzin; costume designer Mika Eubanks; costume designer Wilberth González; sound designer Kathy Ruvuna; scenic designer Gerardo Díaz Sánchez; and hair/wigs/makeup designer Destinee Steele.

The 1/52 Project, launched in January 2022, is primarily funded by designers with shows running on Broadway who are encouraged to donate one week every year of their weekly royalties to this fund. The project hopes to encourage early career designers from historically excluded groups, including all women, with the aim of diversifying and strengthening the Broadway design community.

The grant criteria were created by, and adjudicated by, a world-class committee of professional designers: David Bengali: projection designer; Amith Chandrashaker: lighting designer; Jiyoun Chang: Tony nominated lighting designer; Wilson Chin: set designer; Alan C. Edwards: lighting designer; Justin Ellington: sound designer; Kai Harada: Tony winning sound designer; Rachel Hauck: Tony winning set designer; Cookie Jordan: hair and wig designer; Sun Hee Kil: sound designer; Hana S. Kim: projection designer; Nikiya Mathis: hair and wig designer; Elaine McCarthy: projection designer; Kimie Nishikawa: set designer; Alejo Vietti: costume designer; and Anita Yavich: costume designer.

Tony Award-winning set designer Beowulf Boritt founded the 1/52 Project and co-manages it with production manager Bethany Weinstein Stewert. Projection designer Simon Harding manages the group's website. Designers Simon Harding, Jeff Croiter, Elaine J. McCarthy, Nevin Steinberg, and Jeff Sugg, also helped manage and organize the 1/52 Project.

"I am deeply grateful to the members of the Broadway community who have made this grant possible through their generous contributions, and to this year's grant committee who shouldered the task of reading 62 applications from talented early career designers, conducting interviews with finalists, and making the impossible decisions of who should receive these grants from among so many worthy applicants. It breaks my heart we could not give funding to all of them," says Boritt. "We had double the number of applicants this year. As the theatre community as a whole faces grave financial challenges, I fear the financial burden falls the hardest on the talented early career artists who need some support."

Stefiania Bulbarella, who is a 2022 1/52 Grant Recipient and is about to make her Broadway debut with Jaja's African Hair Braiding, says, "The 1/52 Project was a before and after in my professional career. I now have the funds to rent a studio to work, bring animators to work along with me as I develop different projects. I no longer have to have animators working along with me in my room, instead I have a professional setup with optimum working conditions."

The current donor list features Tyler Micoleau, Bill Rauch, Alexander Dodge, Sky Switser ,Hudson Scenic, Robert Kaplowitz, Lindsay Jones, Aaron Copp, Jeffrey Sugg, Michael Wolk , Abbie Strassler , Scott Pinkney, Kumiko Yoshii, Beowulf Boritt, Paloma Young, Hana Kim, Scott Lehrer, Japhy Weideman , Toni-LeslieJames, Tony Meola, JJ Janas, John Lee Beatty, Natasha Katz, Peter Nigrini, Nikiya Mathis, Tom Watson, Dane Laffrey, Justin Townsend, Kai Harada • Marilyn (Cookie) Jordan, Rachel Hauck, Jonathan Deans, Nevin Steinberg , Susan Hilferty, Walt Spangler, Roger Gindi, Wilson Chin, David Korins, Philip Rosenberg, Gregg Barnes, Richard Hudson, Julie Taymor, Derek McLane, Jim Bay, Bradley King, Kimie Nishikawa [Dots], BT Whitehill, Caroline Aquino, Jiyoun Chang, Ken Posner , Thomas Schumacher, Mimi Lien, Paul Tazewell, Christopher Ash, Donald Holder, David Zinn, Junkyard Dog, Jenny & Jon Steingart, Alejo Vietti, Mikey Rolfe, Elaine J. McCarthy, Christine Jones and David Rockwell.

The 1/52 Project is deeply grateful to all of its contributors but would like to acknowledge especially generous donations from Nevin Steinberg, the Tony Award-winning sound designer of Hadestown, Sweeney Todd, and Hamilton; Paul Tazewell, the Tony Award-winning costume designer of Hamilton; David Korins, the Tony Award nominated set designer of Hamilton; Julie Taymor, Richard Hudson, and Thomas Schumacher, the Tony Award-winning director/costume designer, set designer and producer, respectively, of The Lion King; and Derek McLane, the Tony Award-winning set designer of Moulin Rouge.

The 1/52 Project is partnered with TheFrontOffice Foundation, founded in 2019 by director/producer, Wendy C. Goldberg. TheFrontOffice is an entertainment development company that specializes in cross over content from live theater to new media. Fueled by the intersection of Goldberg's 20 years in the theater and her experiences as a Performance Director for Rockstar Games, TheFrontOffice develops content and stories for our times. TheFrontOffice Foundation, the company's charitable arm, was established in 2020 to support the live theatrical community during the time of industry shut down as well as the re-opening efforts. Our support happens in a multitude of ways including direct artist relief, commissions and grants. To date, we have partnered with TCG and SDCF on relief efforts. TheFrontOffice Foundation distributed additional mid-career relief grants to theater workers in March 2021 and to parents in June 2021. With corporate donors as well as individuals, these efforts have distributed a quarter of a million dollars in aid. TheFrontOffice works with Players Philanthropy Foundation as their Fiscal Sponsor.

The 1/52 Project is primarily funded by donations from professional designers working on Broadway, but anyone is welcome to make a tax-deductible contribution at: www.oneeveryfiftytwo.org/contribute.

Applications will open again in January 2024 for next year's early career designer grants.


(11 September 2023)

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