Paul Robeson Citation Award
Annual Paul Robeson Award honors Artists Striving To End Poverty
Artists Striving To End Poverty (ASTEP), a nonprofit organization founded by Broadway musical director, conductor, orchestrator and musician Mary-Mitchell Campbell, garnered the 2016 Paul Robeson Citation Award presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation. The award was presented on Oct. 24, 2016 in the New York Equity building.
ASTEP was conceived by Campbell and students at Juilliard (where she was on the faculty from 2003-2009 and continues to conduct workshops) with a mission “to transform the lives of youth using the most powerful tool they had: their art. Today, ASTEP connects performing and visual artists with underserved youth in the United States and around the world to awaken their imaginations, foster critical thinking and help them break the cycle of poverty.” Among its many programs, ASTEP runs a six-week summer arts academy for refugees, provides volunteers in a nursing home to work with kids in Washington Heights, focuses on children with HIV and other health challenges, as well as conducting performance workshops in homeless shelters and community centers, all run by a network of dedicated volunteers.
“I am thrilled to be following in the steps of former Equity Councillor and most recent chair of the Paul Robeson Award committee Julia Breanetta Simpson, and have been given the honor of presenting the 2016 Paul Robeson Citation award,” said current chair and Equity Councillor Allyson Tucker. “Being able to help in some way to shine light on the mission of ASTEP, which empowers people through the arts to end poverty and regain the human right of choice on a global level, is humbling. Where art, humanity, love, effort and service meet, there is ASTEP.”
Created in 1971, the award honors individuals or organizations that best exemplify and practice the principles to which Mr. Robeson devoted his life: dedication to the universal brotherhood of all humankind, commitment to the freedom of conscience and of expression, belief in the artist’s responsibility to society, respect for the dignity of the individual and concerns for and service to all humans of any race or nationality. The award was voted on by members of the Actors’ Equity Paul Robeson Committee, chaired by Allyson Tucker Mitchell.
ASTEP joins a distinguished list of previous award winners, including Paul Robeson, Maya Angelou, Alice Childress, Jacques D’Amboise, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte, Athol Fugard, James Earl Jones, Joe Papp, Sidney Poitier and George C. Wolfe.
“We are so incredibly honored to be given this award, and we are grateful to the many artists that have volunteered with us and continue to work toward creating better lives for young people,” said Campbell. “We really firmly believe that art has the power to transform lives in ways that other things cannot.”
When not at ASTEP, Campbell has a busy musical career. Broadway shows for which she has served as Music Director and/or conductor include The Addams Family, Company, Tuck Everlasting, Finding Neverland and My Love Letter to Broadway.
The Actors’ Equity Foundation, a philanthropic and humanitarian nonprofit organization, was created in 1962 to aid and assist the members of the acting profession and to promote the theatre arts. It is separate from Actors’ Equity Association and is funded by estate bequests and individual donations.
Credit: Stephanie Masucci
Arizona Theatre Service
Diversity on Broadway
On June 1, 1971, the Council of Actors' Equity Association established what is now known as the Paul Robeson Committee, and designated Frederick O'Neal as Chair. The Committee resolved to present annual citations to the individual or organization that, during the preceding year or years, best exemplified and practiced the principles and ideals of this great humanitarian, Paul Robeson. For a complete list of recipients click here.
Paul Robeson as Othello