Wednesday, September 13, 2023

ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence Embraces Transformation, Rebrands as ariZoni Theatre Association

The ariZoni Theatre Association is thrilled to unveil its new identity and mission, marking a pivotal shift from its traditional role as a purveyor of awards to a dynamic full-service organization dedicated to empowering and advancing the Arizona theater community.

As it assumes its fresh mantle as the ariZoni Theatre Association, this non-profit entity is steadfastly committed to nurturing the vibrant tapestry of theater in Arizona. The organization's renewed mission is built upon three core pillars:

  • Celebrating Excellence: The Association will continue to honor theatrical achievements through its annual awards ceremonies.
  • Serving the Theatre Community: By offering workshops, events, professional development opportunities, and fostering best practices, the Association aims to provide comprehensive support to the theater community.
  • Supporting the Phoenix Theater Community: The Association will actively contribute to the enrichment of the Phoenix theater ecosystem by providing essential resources and programs.

This transformative journey began in late 2020 during the height of the COVID pandemic when many theaters faced unprecedented challenges. The ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence embarked on a strategic planning session, involving the Zoni Board of Directors and esteemed members of the theater community. The consensus was clear – the organization possessed the potential to evolve beyond an awards-centric entity.

Recognizing the need to augment capacity, the Association took its initial step by appointing administrative support in the form of Miranda Hansen, who joined the organization in February. The Arizona Commission on the Arts played a pivotal role in providing the Association with its first-ever grant, securing partial underwriting for this critical position, thereby facilitating the transformative journey.

Notably, the iconic annual awards ceremony will remain a focal point of the Association's endeavors, continuing to grace the Fall calendar.

"As we embark on our transformation into a service-oriented organization, we are actively listening to our members and addressing immediate concerns," emphasized Richard Powers Hardt, President of the ariZoni Board of Directors. "Our success in this transformation is contingent upon the active involvement of the theater community. We eagerly anticipate collaborating with theater leaders, professionals, actors, and creatives to form committees that will steer both us and the theater community towards a brighter future."

Meribeth Reeves, a current board member and former ariZoni Board President who spearheaded the transformation, added, "We recognized that change was imperative for our organization to remain relevant and thrive. Our current emphasis areas are informed by insights garnered from the theater community. With administrative support, we are poised to develop and manage these committees and progress towards our goals."

The Association's next fiscal year will witness eight focus areas, each helmed by community committees led by ariZoni Board members. The organization is actively recruiting committee members who possess experience or stakeholder interest in these topics. Individuals must demonstrate an interest in researching historical context and potential solutions, as well as an eagerness to explore best practices from analogous organizations.

The areas of focus include:
  • Award Restructuring: Exploring potential realignment of awards categories, including considerations for colleges and budget-based restructuring.
  • Award Gendering: Assessing the need and value of removing gender distinctions from awards.
  • Performance Feedback: Investigating ways to provide performance feedback while preserving adjudicator anonymity.
  • Multi Theatre General Auditions: Developing an annual multi-theatre open audition for valley actors, scheduled to commence in Spring 2024.
  • Actor Database Development: Evaluating the viability of an actors' database accessible to all local theaters for talent recruitment.
  • Theatre Outreach and Events: Determining topics for community events and workshops addressing theater needs, such as youth safety programs, technician training, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
  • Outreach to Statewide Theatre Organizations: An exploratory committee to extend services and support to rural community-theatre groups beyond the Phoenix metropolitan area.
  • Adjudicator Education: Assessing current training, potential for enhanced one-on-one adjudicator training, and adherence to best practices.
To Participate: Interested individuals are encouraged to fill out THIS FORM to join these committees or share this opportunity with potential stakeholders. The ariZoni Theatre Association believes that collaboration is the key to our collective strength.

"The ariZoni Theatre Association fosters an environment of celebration, service, and support for the valley theater community. We are all stronger if we work together," emphasized Powers Hardt.

Don't miss this year's Arizoni Theatre Awards of Excellence Celebration, which will pay tribute to excellence in theater for the 2022-2023 season. The event will take place at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, October 2nd, and tickets are available for purchase now.

For more information, please visit the ariZoni Theatre Association website at

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