Performance categories at the Dora Mavor Moore Awards go gender neutral

The Dora Mavor Moore Awards are getting rid of gender in their performance categories.In a press release on Wednesday, the.


The Dora Mavor Moore Awards are getting rid of gender in their performance categories.

In a press release on Wednesday, the Toronto Alliance For The Performing Arts (TAPA) announced they are eliminating gendered performance categories from their annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards.

The awards show, which honours theatre, dance and opera productions in Toronto, has historically split the outstanding performance awards into male, female and ensemble categories, each with five nominees. The upcoming change will combine the male and female categories and increase the number of nominees in each category to eight.

Arts awards have increasingly come under fire for failing to meet their audiences standards for political awareness and inclusivity.

With hashtags like #grammyssowhite and #oscarssomale and social phenomena like the #metoo movement, consumers of media are making it clear that the entertainment industry is not exempt from expectations of social progress, but most awards show heavyweights have been slow to change.

This makes TAPAs move all the more bold.

The arts are and should be in the vanguard of accepting and promoting change and social justice, said Jacoba Knaapen, executive director of TAPA, in the press release.

This change levels the playing field for male, female and gender non-conforming artists who will now be judged solely on the basis of their performance.

The decision came after a 14-month month review process, which the Dora Awards undergo every five years. After a unanimous recommendation by the review group, the TAPA Board of Directors officially adopted a gender-neutral policy for all outstanding performance awards beginning with the 2018-2019 season, which runs May 1 to April 30.

TAPA, which already practises strategic casting of its volunteer awards jurors to maintain balance of gender, sexuality, age, and ethnicity, will also introduce anti-bias training for the 2018-2019 season.

As part of this training, jurors will be educated about issues of equity, diversity and gender-inclusivity. TAPA will also be tracking through voluntary disclosure the gender identity of future nominees and recipients of the outstanding performance award as part of its review process.

As the oldest and largest theatre, opera and dance awards in Canada, the Dora Awards are setting a major precedent for other awards shows to follow suit. So far other major stage awards, like New York’s Tony Awards and Londons Olivier Awards, have not made similar changes to their categories. In fact, the only other major awards show to eliminate gender from its performance categories for the purpose of promoting gender neutrality is the MTV Movie and TV Awards, which awarded Emma Watson a golden popcorn for best actor in a movie at the 2017 awards.

The nominees for the 2017-2018 Dora Awards will be announced at a press conference at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on May 31. The 39th Annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards will take place June 25 at the Winter Garden Theatre (189 Yonge).

Tickets are available online from noon on May 31.

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