It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for… the 2020 Shuler Awards have been announced! Our reimagined virtual 2020 Shuler Awards ceremony aired on Georgia Public Broadcasting May 14 at 8 PM and is available to stream online at gpb.org/shuler-2020.
Click here for the full list of 2020 Shuler Award Nominees and Winners!
2020 Shuler Awards Competition Updates in Response to COVID-19 Health Mandates
Nominations will be Announced Online April 3 and Winners to be Announced and Celebrated through Online Presentation in Early May
"ATLANTA – March 24, 2020 – Demonstrating organizational resilience in the name of thousands of Georgia high school students, ArtsBridge Foundation today announced the 12th Annual Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards competition remains in progress.
The final stages of score tabulation are underway this week, and finalists from participating schools – as well as scholarship winners – will be announced online on April 3, with winners to be announced and celebrated with an online presentation in early May. Additional details about both announcement dates and online formats/timing will be announced later this month via ArtsBridgeGA.org and social media channels @ArtsBridgeGA.
Presented as the Shuler Hensley Awards and known as “The Shuler Awards” or “Shulers,” the education program is named for the Atlanta-born star of the stage and screen who typically emcees an annual ceremony in the tradition of the Tony Awards. ArtsBridge Foundation organizers determined there would not be a full student-centric ceremony on stage at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in April 2020 as hoped or envisioned, but the competition finalists, winners, and all participating schools will be honored through an online presentation.
“While we are disappointed that international events and public safety mandates prevent us from gathering in celebration of this year’s outstanding students and school performances, the ArtsBridge team worked tirelessly with its partners to make an awards announcement possible in a scaled-back format that keeps everyone safe,” said ArtsBridge Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Dobbs. “From the first signs that an awards ceremony might not be possible, our team jumped into action to keep as much of the competition intact with as many participating schools as possible, proving in a small way that ‘the show must – and can – go on.’”
During the 2019-2020 school year – cut short and still in flux due to the global, national, and statewide responses to COVID-19 – ArtsBridge engaged with 75 Georgia high schools chosen to compete through an online enrollment process that took place in August. Of the original 75 schools, 67 were able to remain in competition before individual school districts announced school closures, many taking effect by March 13.
“We acknowledge with regret that an array of circumstances – mostly timing of cancelled performances from March 12 through March 15– caused a handful of schools to sadly lose their eligibility to compete,” said Dobbs. “Though they are out of the competition, we are working to find a creative and meaningful way to honor the impacted schools’ and students’ hard work completed before their performances got canceled out of an abundance of caution to preserve the safety and health of students, teachers, judges, and their families.
“Stay tuned to ArtsBridgeGA.org and our social channels @ArtsBridgeGA for updates in the days ahead,” Dobbs added.
Finalists and winners are recognized as the best of the state’s high school musical theatre students and schools of the 2019-2020 academic year, with two winners—best actress and actor—typically progressing to represent Georgia nationally in New York in June. However, organizers Broadway League announced that this year’s presentation of the National High School Musical Theatre Awards program – named The Jimmy Awards® – was canceled on March 20. The 2020 Shuler Awards performance and live broadcast on Georgia Public Broadcasting was scheduled to take place April 16, but is now pushed to early May, without a live broadcast or performance.
The selected public and private schools span 24 counties across the Peach State. The complete list of schools is available below, at the end of this press release. The 2019-2020 competition engaged approximately 9,400 students. Since 2009, the Shuler Awards engaged over 52,200 students from 139 schools and 38 counties/school systems. This year’s registration day in August (for the 2019-20 competition) broke records with 75 schools from 24 counties enrolling in the program online, filling the application pool in less than 20 minutes.
Fashioned after Broadway’s Tony Awards, this year’s Shuler Award high schools and their students competed in 17 categories. The main objectives of the program are to increase awareness, advocacy and support for Georgia’s arts education programs, to develop and foster growing talent by providing learning and performance opportunities, and cultivating/nurturing productive relationship among Georgia’s promising thespians and educators.
The Shuler Award categories include direction, music direction, orchestra, lighting design, showstopper, choreography, featured performer, ensemble, overall production, technical execution, sound, scenic design, costumes, and best performances by a leading actress, actor, supporting actress or supporting actor.
Shuler Award candidate productions were evaluated by a group of 60 volunteers who are Georgia-based arts professionals. The accounting firm Bennett Thrasher is tabulating the results from adjudication forms completed and submitted through March 12.
Dobbs shared words of appreciation for the Shuler Awards sponsors, many of which have already affirmed their commitment to support the program in its abbreviated format.
“We are so thankful for the generosity of our financial supporters who recognize the importance and educational value of the Shuler Awards program,” said Dobbs.
Sponsors of the 2019-2020 Shuler Awards include the Atlanta Braves Foundation, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Delta Community Credit Union, Deloitte, John & Mary Franklin Foundation, Georgia Lottery, Jimmy and Helen Carlos, Shan Cooper and Tyler Perry Studios. A full list of sponsors is available online at ArtsBridgeGA.org/our-supporters/partnerships. Additional corporate donations or private contributions to the Shuler Awards are appreciated and may be submitted online at ArtsBridgeGA.org/get-involved/donate.
ArtsBridge Foundation is dedicated to providing quality arts education and community programs that engage, motivate, inspire, and elevate the next generation of artists and arts supporters. ArtsBridge provides arts education opportunities to K-12 students through programs at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, including field trips, professional development, family programs, and the annual Shuler Awards. Since 2007, ArtsBridge has served more than 380,000 students and educators from 67 Georgia counties, plus students from five bordering states. ArtsBridge Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. ArtsBridge Foundation and GPB-TV’s live broadcast of The Shulers won the Southeast Emmy® Award in 2018 and 2019 for special event live coverage, indicative of the superb quality and high production value Georgia students bring at show time.
Celebrating Excellence in High School Musical Theatre
Fashioned after Broadway’s Tony Awards, the Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards – Shuler Hensley Awards celebrate excellence in high school musical theater. The Awards are named in honor of actor/singer and Georgia native, Shuler Hensley, winner of the prestigious Tony Award, Outer Critics Circle Award and Drama Desk Award. The program embodies a spirit of camaraderie and celebration for the arts in high schools across Georgia. Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre provides a beautiful, state-of-the-art home for the Shuler Awards. The Shulers are a part of the National High School Musical Theatre Awards – The Jimmy Awards® . The televised show won the 2018 and 2019 Southeast Emmy® Award for "Special Event Live Coverage."
Learn more about Shuler Hensley here.
The Shuler Awards made possible thanks to our partners at Fox Theatre and Broadway Across America, and the generous support of sponsors.