The 2021 Kenny Awards is unlike any other year but for a good reason. Thembi Duncan, Shea’s director of arts engagement and education says they are really excited about this year because in spite of the pandemic, we will not be held down. This year they are going to give out scholarship money. Duncan says there will be $10, 000 in scholarships available for eight lucky young people who are serious about performing arts. At this point they have 159 entries from 46 area high schools. She says this is unprecedented because usually they have between seven and ten schools participating each year in the Kenny’s and now that have multiple times that many schools.
Duncan says initially there is a vetting process where a school had to have a theater program, had to produce a musical and then that director had to apply and go through an interview process. She says because they knew not a lot of schools were going to be able to do an in-person musical this year, how about making it available to every student in Western New York.
If you’ve never been in a musical because your school doesn’t have musical theater or theater at all, it’s okay. Duncan says they have dance choreography that dancers can and have to use for the dance submissions; they have a monologue library that students can use and then they have the list of songs they can use. All the material is on their website.
There is some concern about certain communities not getting the message about being able to participate and they want to fix that. Duncan says they really want to attract more Bi-pop applicants and Bi-pop stands for black indigenous and people of color. She says they want our applicants to represent the rich diversity of our region and they want to make sure they are being as supportive and helpful as possible in making is accessible to everyone, making it inviting and making people want to do this.
The submissions are due March 31st. It is a hard deadline. Duncan says you can fill out your application on their website now, but you don’t have to submit your video until that deadline of March 31st. She highly recommends that you get that in as soon as possible because the trick with technology is, as we all know, is that it doesn’t always work when we want it to.
The nomination announcements will be on April 30th and the ceremony is going to be on May 8th.