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2011 discord to give way to smooth sailing for Kevin Kline Awards group

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 28, 2011 - In early 2011, the Kevin Kline Awards began to resemble the title of its namesake actor's 1997 movie "In and Out."

Three local theater companies dropped out and some debated whether to stay in after the Professional Theatre Council revised the inclusion criteria including numbers of shows and actors' pay. Others were unhappy over the demise of PTC's education and outreach.

But after a year of experiencing "The Big Chill" from disgruntled companies, the folks behind the Kevin Klines are looking forward to a happy seventh "Anniversary Party."

Boasting a stable membership and three new board members, PTC is poised to launch a fundraiser in January to revive its outreach. A donor has pledged to match all other contributions so the group can resume educational programs this spring. The contributor has requested for the name and amount to remain undisclosed, according to PTC board president Charlie Robin.

Prospective donors can contact the PTC through its website.  Donations will help pay for students' tickets and transportation to the theater, and to hire professionals to help make the experience more meaningful.

"A teaching artist will talk to students before a performance about the show, its themes and even theater etiquette," Robin said. "Then the artist goes with them to the production and works with them afterward, asking about what did they see and what did it mean -- how did they react to this?"

An additional, small amount of money may be raised through the sale of $20 "Play Money" gift cards that can be redeemed at most PTC member theaters as well as some non-member venues.

In another change, nominations will come with bigger fanfare than in previous years. An announcement event and a free open-to-the-public reception is scheduled for Jan. 30. The new pre-awards bash is just part of a progression that bodes well for the future of the Kevin Kline Awards, Robin said.

"[Last year] was simply that we were having to define what were the parameters for the organization," Robin said. "Once those who decided this wasn't for them, left, then everything just moved forward and continued to grow as it was originally intended."

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.

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