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Cappies is a year-long program for theatre and journalism students through which students attend and discuss each other's shows, write reviews for publication, and at the end of the season decide who of their colleague student performers and technicians should be honored for awards.

  • To provide a unique collaborative learning experience for high school theatre and journalism students.
  • To encourage and advance the training of student writers, performing artists and technical crew o promote and celebrate the powerful creative work of high school theatre students, writers and their teachers.
  • To connect theatre students and programs in our region so they can learn from, respect and support each other. To strengthen the support of the stakeholders who fund theatre and the arts in our schools.

  • Cappies Inc. is a Virginia 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation, EIN# 31-1803517, and charters the twelve Cappies chapters across the US and Canada.
  • Cappies NCA, a Cappies chapter, is also a 501(c)3 non-for-profit organization, EIN # 02-0639746.
  • Cappies Inc and Cappies NCA, individually each file yearly 990s per IRS requirements.

If the issue is scheduling, critic mentor assignments, review issues and minor tech problems, email Glenda.Miesner@cappies.com, our amazing Program Manager.

Glenda answers quickly so everyone gets to their assigned places and duties on time.

For general questions email AdminNCA@Cappies.com.

Want to join the Steering Committee, learn how to be a mentor at shows or volunteer at the Gala? Email us at AdminNCA@cappies.com.

We are a large crew of volunteers and always looking for more.

Some of our young teachers who were once Cappie critics themselves, are now Cappies mentors and are WONDERFUL!

We have parent volunteers who continue on even after their children graduate.

School/Critic fees - $30,000 ($400 per Cappie member school and $15 per critic)
Net money from Gala ticket sales after expenses - $34,000
We are fortunate that Fairfax County Public Schools, through an MOU, helps pay some of the direct Kennedy Center expenses and also produces the Channel 21 rebroadcast of the Gala. The Kennedy Center provides the Concert Hall rent free through its Theatre for Young Audiences program.
Operating Expenses:
Payroll for part time program manager - $25,000
Annual bank/merchant accounting fees, insurance, community use of school buildings, supplies, printing, legal fees, technology/communications (licenses, server fees, internet costs), utilities, tax preparation - $40,000

Cappies NCA is supported by many theatre-loving volunteers -- and one part time employee. We are applying for grants in order to be able to employee a full-time manager. We recently received an operating grant from ArtsFairfax that will help us make progress toward this goal.

Cappies, Inc., the overall governing body for all the Cappies chapters, employs a part time CTO/CFO

A major IT upgrade has been taken by Cappies, Inc. to improve all Cappies chapters. The huge IT system that runs all aspects of Cappies is now on professional, commercial servers. The good news is it is stable, accommodates the thousands of current Cappies users, and can serve many more potential chapters. The challenge is the cost. The increase fees to web services providers and other IT upgrades is close to $40,000 a year. Currently a small number of generous donors are helping to pay the bills. All the Cappies Chapters are also paying higher fees. We would seek grants and corporate donors to help cover these costs.

  • Any public, private school or homeschool group in the metro area can join.
  • A member school/group forms a critic team of 3 to 9 students, provide one adult mentor to help manage discussions and read reviews, and designate one of their shows as a Cappie show which will be attended by 54 to 90 assigned critics.
  • A school or group can be a member with a critic team only and no designated show.
  • Each team must attend and review at least 5 shows. Critics may volunteer for more shows but no more than 18. Most critics attend between 5 and 10 shows.
  • All the critics and mentors, both new and returning, are trained every year.

The show needs to tell a story -- or have a thread of a story and be at least 90 minutes long. Cappies shows range from small black box, small cast, simple productions to huge musicals with a 'cast of thousands'. There can be teacher written shows, student directed shows, shows with student written music, a reimagined Shakespeare play. We emphasize to the critics that the production values of a show come from a story well told by a committed team of students not by the glitz that may come from the amount of money generous parents may be able to provide. Creativity, cooperation and heart is what matters.

We teach the critics to respect the work and effort of their colleague students and schools.
We hope that the extensive range of eligible Cappie shows and critics choice categories can provide a host of opportunities for many students and schools to shine. We don't allow reviews to be negative nor do we allow snarky remarks in the discussion rooms. We remind the students our purpose is to learn and write about theatre and to celebrate the hard work of all our students and schools. At the Gala, we continue to look for ways to actively involve as many students as possible.' The critics will honor over 200 nominees. Another 100 students will be onstage as singers, dancers, musicians, and onstage ushers (GIGS and BITS). Another 150-200 will perform play/musical cuttings and the finale includes a student from every Cappie member school (58-60). Plus, all the critics (500+) are honored and mentioned by name in the program.
Our policy regarding show attendance as well as the voting rules are designed to curb unreasonable competition fever.
Critics may not attend the same show title as their own school's show. Students can't attend two shows with the same title. A critic can only see one "Chicago" or one "A Midsummer Night's Dream". 'A critic can only vote for the shows he/she has attended and reviewed. 'At voting, a critic can't vote on a category in which she/he is a named critics choice. A critic can't vote for or against him/herself nor can the critic vote for his/her own school's show. At voting, an electronic ballot is created for each critic so that he/she can only vote for their allowed shows and categories. Before a critic starts voting, the categories on the electronic ballot are checked for each student by an adult proctor to make sure the rules will be followed.'
Can a critic attend only their friend's shows?
No. While schools with a reputation for putting on really entertaining productions will draw more critics who volunteer to see more shows, critic teams are assigned shows across the region, well beyond their friend groups.

No. The Cappies bylaws and governing rules do not allow this. Cappies is student centered and student driven, with the critics ultimately deciding who among their colleagues should be honored. If awardees determined by adult adjudicators were honored alongside those named by the student critics, the critics work and year- long learning process would be devalued. The Cappies rests on the integrity and fairness of the critics and their respect for the hard work of all the students and theatre teachers. We know a program like Cappies takes a leap of faith in our student critics. But by and large, they rise to the challenge and take their responsibility seriously. If they don't, they can be asked to leave the program and may endanger their school's eligibility for Cappie awards.

The voting algorithm is based on finding a mean score in each category not a total number of votes cast.' Each category is voted on separately with nominations and awards determined for each. The awards for play and musical are not determined by a summation of nominations given in other categories. As in all the other categories, these awards are voted on and scored separately.

The following is a detailed explanation of the voting process.

The Cappies voting system is admittedly complicated, as it must be to ensure fairness. The complete details of the process are available to all via the Cappies Rules based on awards eligibility, eligible categories, awards voting, and awards voting results process to determine nominations and award items.

  • The Cappies voting system has been constructed to be totally evenhanded to all schools regardless of the size of the critics team, or the number of critics who attended each Cappies show. Doing this allows them to identify (and discourage) 'gaming' or strategic voting by individual critics or teams. This provides Cappies officials with clear and fully independently auditable results.
  • The critics vote through specially designed computer software, through which they give points to individual candidates. No critic sees all shows (or anything close to that), of course, and the voting system has been designed to account for that.
  • Critics vote at proctored central locations on specific days in mid-May. The computer software, along with adult proctors are able to monitor (in real time) the voting process to ensure that all rules are being followed, and critics are not gaming the system for/against a single show or school.
  • The critics vote through a combination of evaluation scores, nomination points, award points, and tie breaks when necessary, (see: https://confluence.cappies.com/display/CIR/18.+Awards+Voting section 2b) based on the number of shows/reviews submitted for the season being voted on.
    • For every show a critic has reviewed, the critic receives 5 nomination points and 1 award point for use throughout voting. However, within each category, every critics choice (candidate) is required to be given an evaluation score based on the Cappies 10-point scale (https://confluence.cappies.com/display/CIR/14.+Post-Show+Evaluations)
    • A critic's final average (mean) score is a sum of all evaluation points given to each critic choice within each category, divided among the total number of critic choices the critic is eligible to vote for. This is verified upon check-out by the proctors during the voting day.
    • All nominations and winners are determined not by the number of critics who saw a show, but first 'normalized' through a mathematical formula that first determines the number of critics who have completed and submitted their ballot based on the total number of critics across the entire chapter, and checked out with proctors (out of 100%) and divides that number against itself to determine the weight of each critics individual vote prior to determining the average points for each candidate eligible for each award category. For example if a chapter, has 100 critics, and 10 have submitted their ballot, each vote for every candidate is worth 10%. However, if 100 critics have submitted their ballot (using the same 100 total critics); each vote is worth 1%. Cappies NCA has between 500 and 600 critics each year.
    • A show's performance date has no impact on the final determining factor for awards nor does the number of critics who attend, review, and vote for a show given the previous statement based on the normalization formula above. In other words, a show that is attended by 30 critics in the fall is not disadvantaged by a show with 100 critics in the spring.