The Stranger Genius Awards, which awards no-strings-attached $5,000 grants to local artists and arts organizations, is being postponed from this fall to next spring.
This year, The Stranger Genius Awards, the arts-and-culture event that has traditionally been held in the fall, has been postponed until the spring.
Each year since 2003, The Stranger — a weekly newspaper in Seattle — had awarded no-strings-attached $5,000 grants to artists and arts organizations, including authors Rebecca Brown and Sherman Alexie, artists C. Davida Ingram and Rodrigo Valenzuela, theater-makers Valerie Curtis-Newton and Jennifer Zeyl, and many others. For the past several years, The Stranger Genius Awards ceremony has been held at The Moore Theatre in Belltown sometime between mid-September and mid-October.
This year, The Stranger has been uncharacteristically quiet about the Genius Awards.
Debra Heesch at Seattle Theatre Group — which runs The Moore Theatre — said the paper hadn’t contacted them with any plans for an event yet. “I hope they aren’t going elsewhere,” she wrote in an email. “We love the Genius Awards.”
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Over the years, the Genius Awards have helped bolster the city’s arts community, giving artists a way to pay for making their work or just pay for their lives. Theater-maker Sarah Rudinoff, who won one of the awards in 2004, says she used $1,800 of her $5,000 grant to “buy a laptop when I was a brand-new real estate agent” and used the rest to pay for living expenses while she worked on plays.
(Full disclosure: Seattle Times writers Brendan Kiley and Bethany Jean Clement formerly worked at The Stranger and served on the Genius Awards selection committee.)
Stranger publisher Tim Keck said Wednesday that moving the Genius Awards from fall — traditionally a heavy arts season — to spring “feels like we’re not talking about the year past, but the year to come.” Plus, he added, The Stranger has just finished an institutional overhaul, moving from a once-a-week edition to a paper once every two weeks. The paper also hasn’t appointed an editor-in-chief since the departure of Tricia Romano earlier this year. (Romano also used to work at The Seattle Times.) “We were building a whole new newspaper and people were a little stressed,” Keck said. “So we’ll be doing the Genius Awards next year.”