The curtain is coming down on the Ivey Awards, the glitzy and festive annual celebration of Twin Cities theater that was likened to Broadway's Tony Awards.
The board and advisory committee that jointly run the awards voted Monday to end the program after 13 years, citing a tough funding climate.
Wednesday's announcement drew some tears among artists and civic boosters.
"I'm saddened by the whole thing, but it just became financially unfeasible," said Iveys founder Scott Mayer, who stepped down last year from producing the project but remained on the board. "I'm looking at it the same way you look at a phenomenal production that has to close."
The Iveys celebrated artistic excellence and pointed a spotlight on artists at the beginning and end of their careers.
"The Emerging Artist Award is the one that I am, in some ways, most sad about losing because it told young artists we were a community that valued them," said director Peter Rothstein, founder of Theater Latté Da, whose productions have won many Iveys. "When you put that next to the Lifetime Achievement Award, it says that this is a place where you can make a life and a living as an artist."
Rothstein held out hope that someone might step in with a "new iteration" of the Iveys.
Mayer, a project director and party planner, founded the Iveys in 2005. Named for a restaurant that was a hangout for actors in the early 20th century, the awards — held each fall at the State Theatre in Minneapolis — honored the creativity of the 80-plus professional theater companies in the Twin Cities.
The Iveys cost about $160,000 a year to produce, according to Mayer. That funding came from corporate sponsors, who were typically saluted in a comic skit on stage. Despite the fundraising problems, the Iveys are debt-free, Mayer said: "We've paid our vendors."