Monday's abrupt announcement by the Carbonell Awards board of directors that it was suspending judging of productions that open in 2009 brought a firestorm of reaction, most of it negative. For a sampling, read and ponder the comments that follow my first post on the situation. Arts journalists, Carbonell voters and the theater community itself reacted with surprise, dismay and anger at the notion that, so soon after the death of program founder Jack Zink in August, the awards themselves were going on a hiatus from which they might never come back.
Members of the executive committee of the Theatre League of South Florida (which has nothing to do with running the Carbonells, though it's often Theatre League members who actually win them) huddled over the situation.
League president Meredith Lasher commented, "The Carbonell Awards are seen as an integral part of the South Florida theater community. This announcement follows so closely [on] the untimely passing of Jack Zink...and is coupled with an acute reduction of media space allocated to the arts. It's really been a double hit to the theater community. Our constituents have naturally had very emotional reactions to the announcement, and the Theatre League Board of Directors will be holding forums for discussion.''
The first gathering will be at 6 p.m. Sunday at Sixth Star Studios, 505 NW First Ave., Fort Lauderdale, the home of the Women's Theatre Project. Anyone who is interested is invited to come, share ideas and "explore constructive opportunities." Judging from the feedback since Monday, it should be a lively conversation.