Christopher Shutt, Tony Winner 2012, War Horse

"We've worked hard in our industry over recent years … we've raised audience expectations and have made ourselves indispensable to contemporary theatre-makers all over the world so I'm saddened to hear that many voters don't even feel qualified to pass an opinion on our work. I agree with Brian Ronan that, at times, we are at our best when we are invisible, so the layman will often have trouble identifying good practice from bad. But it's up to the Committee to have representatives from all of the theatre-making disciplines to help guide people's choices and to point out the best examples - not to remove one discipline entirely. To deny us that opportunity is to misrepresent the theatre-going experience for audiences, which would be so much less rich without us."
 
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Mic Pool, Tony Winner 2008, The 39 Steps


"I was very honored to be the first ever recipient of the Tony award for sound design in the 2008 awards. The decision of the Tony Awards Administration Committee to retire the awards has shocked and saddened me.
 
Sound design has been a core part of the collaborative process of theatre production, working with directors, writers, and actors to create inspiring and truthful work to delight, shock, educate, and entertain audiences for many, many years. It took a long time for the more conservative senior figures, both in London's West End and on Broadway, to acknowledge this through the inclusion of sound design awards in the Olivier's in 2004 and four years later at the 2008 Tony's.
 
In the seven years the sound Tony's have been awarded, fifty six productions have been nominated which, as a body of work, serve as shining examples of the best sound design practice on the Broadway stage. These sound designs demonstrate a broad range of approaches and techniques in the way they have been imagined and executed. It is utterly incomprehensible to me that the administration committee and the Tony nominators and voters in general, in considering all these nominated designs, have not been able to develop the critical listening skills and appreciation of the art of the sound designer to enable them to value this work equally with the contributions of other designers and members of creative teams.
 
The important thing is that the exemplary standards and dedication of those that practice this design discipline are recognised. The nominees stand as representatives of the profession in general, to receive the acknowledgement of the industry on behalf of all those working at this level and for the next generation who aspire to. Of course, it is difficult for anyone to make a rational decision as to which design should ultimately be declared a winner, but this is really the same for all the categories, and the absurd comparisons that have to be made between actors, writers, directors, and designers in vastly different projects and circumstances are all part of the froth and excitement of awards ceremonies in general.
 
What will not change despite the awards being retired is any fundamental shift in the importance of sound design in the creation of the next seasons on Broadway and in London's West End, and the thousands of other productions which will be created around the world. Sound designers will still be integral and essential in realizing the vision of writers and directors and enabling the highest standards of presentation of their work and the work of the performers. They will take ideas which only exist in their imaginations, and through their art transform them into sonic realities that can be shared with an audience.
 
I would hope that there were considerably less than the twenty four members of the committee in favour of this decision, I recognize many of the names of the members, and would be very surprised if this represented the views of anything more than a slim majority."

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Gareth Owen, Tony nominee 2012, End of the Rainbow, and 2010, A Little Night Music

"There is much discussion out in the States suggesting that sound design is a purely technical vocation - that a sound designer is a facilitator to the other creatives rather than an artistic force in their own right. While I would agree that sound design is a hugely technical discipline, I would argue that to suggest it lacks art form is akin to implying that actors merely read the script or that dancers simply reproduce the steps. The same passion, talent, and imagination that goes into playing Hamlet or performing Swan Lake also goes into sound design - if the Tony Awards Administration Committee fails to understand this then it is simply our duty to educate them."