The Ivey Awards, a scaled-down, uniquely Twin Cities version of Broadway’s Tony Awards, is in need of a new impresario.
Scott Mayer, the man-about-town who founded the theater awards show 12 years ago and has produced it ever since, said Wednesday he is stepping down.
“It’s practically become a full-time job,” Mayer said. A former community relations manager at Target, Mayer runs his own events consulting business and wants to devote more time to a mentorship program called the “One Man Project.” He felt it was time to pass on the Iveys torch.
Iveys board member Amy Newton will helm a committee to determine the Iveys’ future. Newton was unavailable to comment on the search for a replacement, but said in a statement that committee members plan on “developing new partnerships ... to ensure the Ivey Awards is able to continue to pursue its mission in the years to come.” The Iveys are “currently financially stable,” said Newton, who is CEO of Arts Ink, a Minneapolis marketing and graphic design nonprofit.
Most awards shows in America’s large theater towns predate the Iveys, which take their name from an early 20th-century actors’ hangout. But as Mayer pointed out, the Iveys typically sell out the 2,100-seat State Theatre, and thus have a higher attendance than any U.S. theater awards besides the Tonys. A drop-off in corporate support forced Washington, D.C.’s Helen Hayes Awards out of larger venues in recent years, while Chicago divvies out its Jefferson Awards into two ceremonies: one for productions featuring Actors’ Equity union casts and another for nonunion shows.
The Iveys, by contrast, lump all productions into one pot, but does not have set categories such as “best actress.” The 12th annual ceremony, held in September, doled out awards to three productions, seven individuals and two ensemble casts. “We wanted it to be as noncompetitive as possible,” Mayer said of the Iveys’ ethos. “It’s an event for theater fans and people who love a good party.”
In New York, Philadelphia, Washington and other cities, the organizations that put on the awards also function as a chamber of commerce for their theater communities. That is not the case with the Iveys, which has an annual budget of $170,000. Mayer collected a stipend, but volunteers do most of the work — including evaluating productions and actors.
The awards do receive significant support from local corporations, which helps the Iveys put on ancillary events. For example, Mayer organizes an annual networking event for theater boards and community leaders. Earlier this year he convinced Best Buy to sponsor a theater tech workshop for high school students.