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Nurturing L.A. Artists and Honoring their Champions

The Dorothy and Richard E. Sherwood Award Carries on a Family’s Legacy of Support

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2019 Dorothy and Richard E. Sherwood Award recipient Kristina Wong and Center Theatre Group Artistic Director Michael Ritchie during the 29th Annual LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards.

Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging.

This fall, the Center Theatre Group family, and the Los Angeles arts community, lost a longtime champion with the death of Dorothy Sherwood. To honor her contributions, we are renaming our Richard E. Sherwood Award—which Dorothy established in memory of her husband, the longtime President and Chairman of the Center Theatre Group Board of Directors—the Dorothy and Richard E. Sherwood Award. This $10,000 award is given annually to nurture innovative and adventurous theatre artists working in Los Angeles.

My mother was an avid supporter of the arts in Los Angeles. She was particularly devoted to Center Theatre Group, where she and my father enjoyed the best of contemporary theatre for decades, said Ben Sherwood. She was deeply interested in young theatre artists and championed innovative and adventurous new work, which is why she first established an award in her husband Richard’s name to encourage and support emerging theatre artists with exceptional talent. My sister Elizabeth and I hope to honor this legacy with the Dorothy and Richard E. Sherwood Award that will now carry both of their names.

Twenty artists—including playwrights, directors, producers, designers, and multimedia artists—have received the Sherwood Award since 1996. They have gone on to push the boundaries of theatre in Los Angeles and around the country ever since, including here at Center Theatre Group, where we continue to collaborate with many of them. The award is designed to honor a local artist at a catalytic moment in their career, with a focus on innovation, experimentation, craft, and a distinct artistic voice.

Performance artist, comedian, and writer Kristina Wong is the recipient of the 2019 Dorothy and Richard E. Sherwood Award; she was honored at the LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards on January 28, 2019. This year we also recognized performer, Watts Village Artistic Director, and Cornerstone Theater Company Associate Artistic Director Bruce A. Lemon Jr and director Marike Splint as finalists.

We are proud that the Sherwood Award also features a professional fellowship for an emerging and aspiring arts professional. Our Sherwood Fellow aids in the administration and coordination of the award, receives a mentorship with our staff, and is exposed to contemporary work around L.A. in the process.

The award reflects the generous spirit of the Sherwood family; Dorothy Sherwood was deeply involved in the curation and selection process, hosting salons at her home for many of the artists, traveling to theatres around Los Angeles to support new work, and ensuring that the award would truly help recipients.

This gift is somewhat unique in Los Angeles in that it gives artists funds to do whatever they want or need; it supports their vision, without parameters or restrictions, at a crucial point in their careers, said Center Theatre Group Artistic Director Michael Ritchie. We are grateful to the Sherwood family for their generosity, which will allow us to continue to make an impact on Los Angeles theatre in the memory of two people who devoted so much of their lives to our community.

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