The Outstanding Artist in Theatre award recognizes an individual artist whose work within their field has made a significant impact within the discipline locally over five years or more.
Josy Jones is an actor, director, playwright, and creative community builder. Her work focuses on providing a platform to amplify community voices and challenge the theatrical art form. Jones founded the Chameleon Village Theatre Collective in 2015 to use site-specific theatre to activate underutilized space.
Awarded the 2018 Emerging Cities Champions Fellowship through 880s Cities and the Knight Foundation, Jones created “Reimagining the Village,” a playwriting course for residents and a walking theatre tour through the Cascade Valley neighborhood. Her work has activated tattoo parlors, art galleries, and more.
Jones has served as a Teaching Artist and Administrative Assistant at the Cleveland Public Theatre, a commissioned playwright for Rubber City Theatre’s Shakesqueer Project (2019), and a text curator and dramaturg for the devising-based theatre practices of QuTheatr (2019) and New World Performance Laboratory (2021).
Jones’ current project, HOME, focuses on creative community building in the West Hill neighborhood of Akron. HOME collects community input and builds connectedness through community presence in the artistic process while researching the role of the body in devising site-specific theatre. The project has been awarded an Ohio Arts Council ArtsNext grant for innovative, community-driven work and was recently accepted for publication as a “Promising Practices Case Study” (2022) by the Arts and Creative Placemaking (WE-Making) Repository at the University of Florida’s College of the Arts.
Jones now serves as head of Strategic Partnerships for the Center for Applied Theatre and Active Culture (CATAC) at the Balch Street Theatre and the Associate Producer for the BorderLight Fringe Festival (2022).
“I believe that art is a sacred practice that gives us the opportunity to reimagine the narrative of the environment around us while allowing us the space to process what it means to be human. Artists need an opportunity to grow their work, so I produce a platform for experimentation. Marginalized communities are being stigmatized, so I created a playwriting course for them to write their own narratives. A neighborhood’s community development corporation isn’t connecting to its residents, so I started interviewing them and intertwining their experiences into a creative ensemble process,” stated Jones.
Jones is working on a devised, site-specific performance about Black Joy in partnership with the Akron Black Artist Guild and the Cascade Locks Park Association to open in September 2022.