The Awards for Best Sound Design Will Return to the Tonys in 2018

by Michael Eddy
The orchestra at the 2015 Tony Awards ceremony. Photo by Shevett Studios
The orchestra at the 2015 Tony Awards ceremony. Photo by Shevett Studios

The Broadway sound design community is getting the recognition that it's due. The Tony Awards announced that the categories of Best Sound Design of a Play and Best Sound Design of a Musical will be reinstated starting in the 2017-2018 season. The two categories were first awarded in 2008 and then suddenly eliminated in 2014.

Further information from The Tony Awards (

Over the last 18 months, the Tony Awards Administration Committee conducted an in-depth review of these categories as well as all of the 24 competitive categories. This review was conducted in consultation with industry professionals including several sound designers. As a result, the Committee developed a plan to address previous concerns related to adjudicating these categories.

Starting next season, Best Sound Design of a Musical and Best Sound Design of a Play will be reinstated to the list of competitive Tony Award categories with a new voting process. In addition, it was determined that for similar reasons, the category of Best Orchestrations will adhere to this same new voting process. The Tony Nominators will nominate for these categories as in the past. However, voting on the winners of the three categories will now be the responsibility of a subset of the overall voter pool based on their professional affiliation.

The Local USA 829 Sound Design Committee of United Scenic Artists endorsed the decision by the Tony Awards to reinstate the Sound Design categories and annual awards for the 2017-2018 season in an offical statement:

“We are very gratified by this outcome,” says Nevin Steinberg, co-chair of the committee that is part of the union representing all designers working on Broadway. “Happily, the appeals and activism of our members, of the professional theater community in New York and around the country, and the thoughtful arguments for reconsideration by some of the most prominent individuals and organizations across show business made an impact. Sound Designers on Broadway will once again be recognized for the integral and creative work that their colleagues and audiences expect.”

United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829, is a labor union and professional association of Designers, Artists, and Craftspeople, many who are world famous, organized to protect craft standards, working conditions and wages for the entertainment and decorative arts industries. The members of Local USA 829 are Artists and Designers working in film, theatre, opera, ballet, television, industrial shows, commercials and exhibitions. The current active membership totals just over 4,300.

The American Theatre Wing’s 71st Annual Tony Awards, hosted by Kevin Spacey, will air live from Radio City Music Hall on CBS on Sunday, June 11, 2017 (8:00-11:00 PM, ET/delayed PT). The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing

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