National TYA/USA Awards

The National TYA/USA Awards honor excellence in the field of Theatre for Young Audiences. Nominated by TYA/USA members and selected by a committee of peers, awards are given annually in the following categories:

The Harold Oaks Award for Sustained Excellence in TYA

This award honors the achievements of individual leaders and companies that have made a significant and lasting impact on the field of TYA.

The TYA Artistic Innovation Award

This award honors an individual or company that has demonstrated innovation – experimentation in content or in form – in recent artistic work in TYA. This award honors vanguards of our field, pushing the genre forward in their work.

The TYA Community Impact Award

This award honors an individual or company that has demonstrated community impact through a project or initiative related to TYA. Awardees utilize the power of TYA to significantly enrich a surrounding community in creative and meaningful ways.

2023 TYA/USA Award Recipients have been announced!

  • Caitlyn McCain (TYA Community Impact Award)
  • Brave Little Company (TYA Artistic Innovation Award)
  • Julia Flood (Harold Oaks Award for Sustained Excellence in TYA)

Awardees will recognized at an Awards Brunch on May 12, 2023
during the TYA/USA National Festival & Conference in Tempe, AZ.


Previous Awardees


  • Rosemary Newcott (The Harold Oaks Award for Sustained Excellence in TYA)
  • Stan Foote (The Harold Oaks Award for Sustained Excellence in TYA)
  • Chicago Children’s Theatre (The TYA Artistic Innovation Award)
  • Courtney J. Boddie (The TYA Community Impact Award)


  • Deirdre Lavrakas and Kim Peter Kovac (The Harold Oaks Award for Sustained Excellence in TYA)
  • Drew Petersen (The TYA Artistic Innovation Award)
  • Cry Havoc Theater Company (The TYA Community Impact Award)


Organization: Stages Theatre Company
Individual: Janet Stanford, Imagination Stage


Organization: Children’s Theatre of Charlotte
Individual: Megan Alrutz, UT Austin
Special Award: Linda Hartzell (Seattle Children’s Theatre) and David Saar (Childsplay) in celebration of their contributions to the field as they retire from their Artistic Directorships of their respective companies.


Organization: Adventure Theatre MTC
Individual: Gayle Sergel, Dramatic Publishing


Organization: Metro Theatre Company, St. Louis
Individual: Scot Copeland, Nashville Children’s Theatre


Organization: People’s Light & Theatre Company
Individual: Joette Pelster, The Coterie

About Harold Oaks

Harold Oaks was President of ASSITEJ International (1999-2002); President of ASSITEJ/USA (1988-1995); President of The American Alliance for Theatre and Education (1987-88); and has been an officer of the National Association of Schools of Theatre; The American Theatre Association, and The Children’s Theatre Association of America.

Dr. Oaks is an emeritus Professor of Theatre at Brigham Young University where he was Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts & Communications and Coordinator of the Drama/Theatre for Young People program.  He chaired the BYU Department of Theatre & Film for twelve years. He has also taught and directed at colleges and universities in Minnesota, Maryland, Nebraska and Colorado.

He has directed more than forty-five plays, including performances at festivals in the US, Norway, Austria, and the former Yugoslavia. He has written over one hundred articles, reviews and publications and edited Outstanding Plays for Young Audiences International Bibliography, Volumes 2-6. He was also founding editor of ASSITEJ International Hot Line with circulation to seventy-two international centers, five times a year.

He continues to serve young people throughout the world creating puppet shows that teach about substance abuse and hygiene. They have been translated into over seventeen languages and used in over twenty-five countries.