The ArtsBridge Foundation recently announced the 24 Georgia high schools chosen to compete in the 13th Annual Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards, including five schools from Gwinnett County.

Known as “The Shuler Awards,” organizers named the competition for the Marietta-born star of the stage and screen who is host of the awards event. Prior to spring 2020, the event was held in the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and last year’s awards presentation took place virtually on May 14 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pivoting to keep the 2021 competition on track, ArtsBridge Foundation also re-imagined the 2020-21 competition, pushing back registration for the contest – typically held in August – to Nov. 2, to accommodate each school’s unique navigation of the pandemic.

Winners and finalists are recognized as the best of the state’s high school musical theater students and schools of the 2020-21 academic year, with two winners — best actress and actor — progressing to represent Georgia in a virtual national competition next July. The 2021 Shuler Awards performance and live broadcast on Georgia Public Broadcasting is scheduled to take place May 20.

The 24 public and private schools span 12 counties across Georgia, with Gwinnett County having the most entrants of any county in the state with five.

Those five nominees are: Buford High for “Bright Star,” Duluth High for “Sister Act, Jr.,” Greater Atlanta Christian for “Little Shop of Horrors,” Lanier High for “The Addams Family” and Providence Christian for “Bright Star.”

“Our ArtsBridge Foundation team members and dedicated volunteer adjudicators all had to pivot to make possible a 2020-21 Shuler Awards competition, and 24 schools is a perfect fit for our new online-only parameters created in response to the pandemic and the individual needs and preferences of each school,” said Angela Farr Schiller, Ph.D., director of arts education for ArtsBridge Foundation.

Fashioned after Broadway’s Tony Awards, this year’s Shuler Award high schools and their students will compete in 15 categories. The main objectives of the program are to increase awareness, advocacy and support for Georgia’s arts education programs, to develop and foster growing talent by providing learning and performance opportunities, and to cultivate/nurture productive relationships among Georgia’s promising thespians and educators.

The Shuler Award categories typically include direction, music direction, orchestra, lighting design, showstopper, choreography, featured performer, ensemble, overall production, technical execution, sound, scenic design, costumes, and best performances by a leading actress, actor, supporting actress or supporting actor.

For this year only, the categories include direction, music direction, orchestra, choreography, ensemble, costume design, scenic design, leading actress and actor, supporting actress and actor, featured performer, overall production, show stopper and Shuler Spotlight, which was added to the 2020 competition.

Shuler Award candidate productions will be evaluated by a group of 50 volunteers who are Georgia-based arts professionals. The accounting firm Bennett Thrasher will tabulate the results for the 2021 Shuler Hensley Awards® nominees.

More information is available on the ArtsBridge Foundation website at

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