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Recommendation to Rescind 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award

Dec 3, 2020

RECOMMENDATION TO RESCIND 2018 LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Due to the ongoing situation involving the PlayPenn Annual Conference under his leadership and past misconduct that was allowed to persist at the organization, Theatre Philadelphia has taken under consideration numerous calls by community members to rescind Paul Meshejian’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which was awarded to him at the 2018 Barrymore Awards Ceremony.

At our July Board meeting, we organized a group of past Lifetime Achievement Award Committee members, board members, staff, and Barrymore Oversight Committee members to address this issue.

This group met at the beginning of September to discuss the matter. After strong consideration and examination of the allegations, Theatre Philadelphia has decided to move forward with a policy of reviewing calls of this type on a case by case basis to determine whether or not a past award should be rescinded.

In this case, a recommendation to rescind the Lifetime Achievement Award of Paul Meshejian has been passed unanimously. Mr. Meshejian was notified on November 5, 2020 and has not made a comment on the matter.

It is clear from public admission by past PlayPenn leadership and personal testimony of victims that the organization committed harm through lack of racial sensitivity, dismissal of the voices of black and brown artists, and failing to protect and listen to individuals who brought up concerns of inappropriate behavior perpetrated by a former board member.

Theatre Philadelphia seeks to represent the values of the Philadelphia theatre community and honor those who add to the richness and diversity of our city's thriving theatre community. As we continue to evolve and create more equity and inclusion in our process and programs, we have come to the conclusion that even though Mr. Meshejian may have made substantial contributions to the life of the Philadelphia theatre community, he has also jeopardized the security and trust of our artists and made our city a less safe place to thrive and create.

As a result of this decision, Mr. Meshejian Lifetime Achievement Award will be stricken from all public Theatre Philadelphia platforms and a public statement about the decision will be made available. We will also publish in the Barrymore Rulebook our POLICY FOR RESCINDING AN INDIVIDUAL BARRYMORE AWARD.

As organizations with influence, we do our artists a disservice by failing to act when we are called to do so. We should never let our ties to donors or our reluctance to disrupt the status quo take precedence over the humanity of those who choose to work in our field. We are appreciative of all of the community members who reached out to us about this matter, as well as those brave enough to speak up publicly about such transgressions.
 

Signed,

Theatre Philadelphia Staff and Board of Directors