The Riant Theatre (Van Dirk Fisher, Artistic Director), a nonprofit theatre supporting playwrights and theatremakers of diverse cultural backgrounds, held the Launch Party for its annual Strawberry One-Act and Theatre Festival, which takes place from July 14th-31st. The evening included the presentation of 2016 Pioneer of the Arts Award For Outstanding Achievement In Television and Theatre to the Emmy-winning stage, film and TV actor Joe Morton, Tony Nominee and eight time AUDELCO Award winner André De Shields, the acclaimed Broadway and television actress Barbara Montgomery, and multiple Grammy Award winner, Broadway musical director and arranger Chapman Roberts.
Since 2009, the Pioneer of the Arts Award For Outstanding Achievement In Television and Theatre has been awarded as a tribute to the trailblazing artists who have paved the way for the diversity and inclusion in the world of entertainment. Past recipients of this honor include Liesl Tommy, the Tony-nominated director of Eclipsed; Sam Pollard, the Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker and editor (Four Little Girls; When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts); George Faison, the first-ever African American TONY Award winner choreographer and director; and Hope Clark, a singer, actress and a former principal dancer of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Among the presenters for the 2016 ceremony were the author and NYU Theater scholar Michael Dinwiddie and Van Dirk Fisher, AUDELCO Award recipient, Founder/ Artistic Director of The Riant Theatre and the Strawberry One-Act and Theater Festival.
For more information on the Strawberry One Act and Theater Festival,