Special to the AmNews

As you begin the new year and decide what you want to do with some of your extra money or time, I would like you to consider getting involved with AUDELCO, the nonprofit organization that has been supporting Black theater for 42 years.

AUDELCO awards Black theater companies the VIV Award for their works. The award recognizes outstanding work by Blacks when it comes to everything associated with a theatrical production, from the playwriting to the acting, choreography, direction, set design, costume design and lighting design. Anything that is part of putting together a theatrical piece of work is recognized.

Mainstream theater companies have the Tony Awards, the Drama Desk Awards and other means of recognition, but who is out there to recognize what our theaters of color are doing? Thank God for the AUDELCO Awards!

In 2014, the organization celebrated its 42nd year and honored many in Black theater, including the Billie Holiday Theatre in Brooklyn, which received top honors for the production of “Maid’s Door,” with seven VIV Awards. But the AUDELCOs do more than honor the theatrical efforts of those in Black theatre. They also recognize the phenomenal works that African-Americans are doing in theatre in other ways.

In 2014, AUDELCO honored Broadway producer Chapman Roberts, but what he was honored for wasn’t for a Broadway production, but for his decision, along with Norm Lewis, to do a production at Carnegie Hall, called “Black Stars of the Great White Way.” In this production, which was presented for one evening only at Carnegie Hall, Roberts was able to bring together an A-list of African-American males who have performed on Broadway and at Carnegie Hall and have them recreate some incredible memorable performances.

That night at Carnegie Hall was a who’s who in Black theater, and there were tributes to many African-American males in the arts. Roberts having the thought to do this and then pulling it off the way he did was worth acknowledging. Along with the amazing performers that he had at this event, he also put together a 100-member all-male chorus with young and older men, and they sang harmoniously throughout the evening.

That evening at Carnegie Hall is one that filled the audience with pride and joy—not just to hear our people’s accomplishments acknowledged, but to see the amazing talent that our Black males possess, from Andre De Shields to Chuck Cooper to Obba Babatunde, and so many others.

What Roberts pulled off was nothing short of a miracle and an evening that needed to happen. But so many times, events such as this need to occur but never do. I was thrilled to know that AUDELCO stepped up to the plate and acknowledged Roberts and Lewis’ event.

The AUDELCO mission is always to recognize what is not being recognized but should be, and that’s why I encourage all to go to www.audelco.org and become a member. See how you can get involved to help AUDELCO keep Black theater alive and acknowledging our accomplishments. AUDELCO is paving the way to sustain Black theater and let it be there for the next generation. That is why it has a Rising Star Award, to acknowledge the young, wonderful talent that is coming to the stage now and will be there in the future.

This organization is vital, and it is something that must be preserved. And old saying is that the strength of a group comes from the top down. Well, all I can say is that AUDELCO is a strong organization, and its strength definitely stems from the lady at the helm—the organization’s president, Grace Jones. In 2014, she lost her husband of many decades, but she did not let that distract her from making sure that everything went well at the AUDELCO Awards in November. She has an inner strength that makes her a vital part of the AUDELCO organization and someone to be acknowledged and cherished.