How the Artsies process works

If you’ve ever wondered how the finalists are selected, here’s a rundown of the process:

Eligible members of the Richmond Theatre Critics Circle and the TAP members are involved in the process. TAP stands for the Theatre Alliance Panel. They’re community members who are not affiliated with any theater company. They’re nominated by the leadership of RVA On Stage (formerly the Richmond Theatre Alliance) and attend the eligible shows. As with the critics, they must have seen 2/3 of the eligible shows to vote. CLICK HERE for a list of critics and TAP members.


Both TAP and RTCC members vote on their top 3 choices in each category via email. The TAP choices are weighed equally with the critics’ choices. They’re compiled on a spreadsheet which reveals the top nominations in each category.

The RTCC meets to select nominees and award winners usually late in the summer. We review the spreadsheet with each voter’s choices and:

  1. If there’s a clear group of 5 with the highest score in a category, those are the nominations.
  1. If there are more than 5, we discuss the merits of the top scorers. Both TAP and RTCC members can suggest that the category be extended to more than 5 nominees.
  1. If there are still questions, any member can make an “impassioned plea,” where he/she can either endorse or disparage a choice with the aim of getting others to change their vote. The goal is to both reduce the final number to 5 and to make sure those 5 are the consensus choice.
  1. Voters can review their choices and make changes. If nobody is willing to adjust their scores, there’s a vote and the majority rules.

Recipients Selected

Only the critics vote on the finalists. Each category is considered and NO nominations other than those chosen are considered at this point. Critics may redistribute their votes if one of their chosen nominees did NOT end up in the final list.

The vote totals are tallied:

  1. If the category has one clear top nominee, it’s declared the finalist.
  1. If more than one nominee has the same or nearly the same number of points, critics can suggest that the category be extended to allow more than 1 winner.
  1. If there’s still a stalemate, the president will call for impassioned pleas. Either TAP or RTCC members can respond to endorse or disparage a choice, aiming to get critics to change their vote. The goal is to both reduce the category to one winner and to make sure the winner is the consensus.
  1. After that, critics can elect to change their votes. If the category remains in a tie, TAP members and non-voting RTCC members vote to break the tie in a one-person/one-vote system.

The results are final. Either a single nominee is identified as the award recipient or a tie is confirmed. The nominations are published, which begins the anticipation of the final announcements at the Artsies Awards.

Example from 2019-20

Note that for the abbreviated 2019-20 season, the goal was to select 3 nominees per category versus the traditional 5. The image below is from the actual tabulation spreadsheet used in the 2019-20 voting process. In a traditional year, there would likely be 10-12 possible nominees in consideration in each category.

The five voting Critics and five TAP members all rated the possible nominees with their 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices. Their selections are given a weighted score and summarized in the “Tot” and “Grand Tot” columns.

Based on the Grand Total, possible nominees #1 and #3 are clearly nominees. #2 and #4 are tied so, instead of just having 3 nominees, both are included. At this point, possible nominees #1-4 are the four actual Artsies nominees for this category.

For the selection of the award recipient, only the Critics’ total is considered. In this case, the Critics’ scores are tied for 3 of the nominees. Because of this, the Critics defer to the TAP who, in this case, clearly preferred possible nominee #1. Therefore, possible nominee #1 is now officially the Artsies Award winner in this category.