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Kentucky Performing Arts to Host Inaugural Bradley Awards Recognizing Young Emerging Theater Artists in Kentucky and Southern Indiana

Kentucky Performing Arts announced today they will present the inaugural Bradley Awards, an official Regional Awards Program of The National High School Musical Theatre Awards® (NHSMTA®), otherwise known as The Jimmy Awards®. The Bradley Awards will celebrate young, emerging artists and elevate the importance of theatre arts education. The Bradley Awards will work in partnership with high schools across Kentucky and Southern Indiana to adjudicate a musical production at each participating school, culminating in an awards ceremony at The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in Louisville, where awards in various categories will be presented to winning students, educators, and ensembles. The awards presentation will take place in the 2,400 seat Whitney Hall at The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in Louisville.

During The Bradley Awards, two area students will be selected to represent the region at The Jimmy Awards® in New York City, which includes 10 days of private coaching, master classes, and rehearsals with theatre professionals prior to participation in the national awards ceremony in a Broadway theater.

The Bradley Awards are named in honor of Bradley Broecker, whose central role in bringing touring Broadway shows to Kentuckiana has made immeasurable impact on the region’s vibrancy. The Bradley Awards are presented by KPA in partnership with the Louisville Theatrical Association.

We are excited to play an important role in elevating awareness of theatre arts education, as we have done for the past 40 years,” said Kim Baker, president and CEO of Kentucky Performing Arts.  “Statewide programs, like the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, have always been a central pillar of our mission and The Bradley Awards create another opportunity shine a spotlight on our local talent.

Eligible students include those attending public and private high schools in all Kentucky counties and in the following Indiana counties: Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Scott, and Washington. Only students enrolled in 9th through 12th grade at participating high schools are eligible to be considered for individual awards (i.e. Best Actor/Best Actress). Theatre programs of all budget sizes are encouraged to consider participation; The Bradley Awards will seek to meet schools “where they are” and celebrate their achievements in context of their resources.

Based on capacity, KPA may need to limit the number of schools that participate in The Bradley Awards; not all schools that are interested in participating are guaranteed a spot in the program.

The Bradley Awards will send a team of three adjudicators to each participating high school to view a performance of their musical. Adjudicators for The Bradley Awards are qualified performing arts educators, professionals, and experts from throughout the awards region. In addition to considering the production, cast, and crew for award categories at The Bradley Awards final ceremony in late May/early June 2025, the adjudicators provide constructive feedback to educators and students with a goal of celebrating their achievements and supporting students’ continued artistic growth.

For the awards presentation at The Kentucky Center, all participating schools will have the opportunity to attend The Bradley Awards. Some schools will be selected to perform an ensemble piece from their musical during the ceremony.

Based on feedback from adjudicators, schools and students are nominated in various categories (similar to the Tony Awards®). Winners are announced for each category during the ceremony. Potential categories for The Bradley Awards include:

  • Best Actor*
  • Best Actress*
  • Best Overall Production
  • Best Direction
  • Best Ensemble 
  • Best Supporting Actor*
  • Best Supporting Actress*
  • A category acknowledging outstanding students in technical/production roles (stage management, set design, etc.)
  • A category acknowledging a school that has made community impact with their performance/production (i.e. fundraising for charity, raising awareness of an important issue, etc.)

*Students are adjudicated in the category corresponding to their gender identification, not the gender of the role that they play. Students identifying as non-binary or gender-fluid may choose to either select the category in which they wish to be adjudicated (regardless of the gender of the role) or they may be adjudicated based on the gender of the role they play.

The winners in the Best Actor/Actress categories receive an all-expenses paid trip to New York City to participate in the national Jimmy Awards (which includes 10 days of masterclasses, as well as the awards ceremony where they will be considered alongside other young artists from across the country).

Values and belonging

The Bradley Awards believes every young artist has value and potential, and every participating student and educator should contribute to an environment that is empowering, educational, exciting, and welcoming to all. While there is a competitive element to any awards ceremony, all participants should be treated with dignity and respect, and in turn should treat others with dignity and respect. The Bradley Awards seeks to build community amongst our region’s high school theatre programs, all of which are worthy of celebration for the value they bring to our youth and our communities.

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