May 14th, 2015
Dear Members of The Tony Awards Management Committee,
On June 7th, when girls across the country turn on the Tony Awards, what do you want them to see?
We want them to see that women can write musicals, and we think an important step in achieving this is that the Tony Awards broadcast the categories of Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical this year.
Women have struggled to break through the glass ceiling in the world of Broadway, and, even in 2015, the ratio of women to men is nowhere near equal. An area that is especially disproportionate is the number of female composers that have had shows on Broadway. In the history of the Tony Awards, only thirteen women have been nominated in the Best Original Score category as composers, and out of those thirteen only about half are primarily identified as composers for the theatre.
Further,only one female composer has ever won the award for Best Original Score, and only one female composer has ever been nominated for this award more than once. Comparatively, in the last twenty years alone there have been ten male composers to receive multiple nominations in this category. Only four musicals written entirely by women have been nominated for Best Musical, and the last one was in 1991. A whole generation has never seen a musical written by women nominated for Best Musical.
This year there is a chance to show girls that someone who composes and writes a Broadway musical can look like them.
Studies, particularly those done by the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media, have shown that there’s a direct correlation between seeing a woman doing a job and greater interest and engagement in that subject from girls in school. Seeing representation normalized on TV has shown a great effect in encouraging girls to pursue areas that have traditionally been male dominated.
No matter who wins on Tony night, it is important for viewers to see women nominated as composers, lyricists, and bookwriters. In an age when girls are constantly bombarded with media images of women as victims or underdogs, to the Tony Awards should celebrate women succeeding, leading, and changing the narrative of who creates Tony-nominated Broadway musicals.
While we believe the Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical categories should be broadcast every year, we feel this year is especially important because when you have the opportunity to make a difference in the aspirations and futures of 51% of the population, there is a moral imperative to do it. People need to see change happening in the biggest spotlight available to the theatre industry, and girls need to see what is possible.
We’re started an online petition for people to voice their support for this issue, which can be found here.