Joyce Award Winners

Charles Smith with Indiana Repertory Theatre



Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Charles Smith is a member of the playwrights ensemble at the Tony Award-winning Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago and is currently head of the Professional Playwriting Program at Ohio University, where he holds the title of Ohio University Presidential Research Scholar in the Arts and Humanities. Smith’s works, which typically explore issues surrounding the perceptions of race and politics from an African-American point-of-view, have been produced off-Broadway and at regional theaters around the country, including The Acting Company's 22-city tour of his play, Pudd’nhead Wilson. His honors include a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1996, and the Illinois Arts Council Governors Award in 1997, among others.

The Joyce Award supported Indiana Repertory Theatre’s commission of a new play by Smith that explores one of the darkest days in Indiana history: the 1930 Marion lynching. Smith related the story of two teenage black boys who were brutally lynched, and the triumphant escape of another, James Cameron, known to be the only living survivor of a lynching attempt alive today. While writing the play, Charles Smith interviewed historians, survivors, and activists; The IRT simultaneously launched a series of public awareness events to engage local and national organizations involved with civil and human rights.

Related Content


Joyce Awards Information Session - August 2023

Culture director Mia Khimm and grants manager Lynne Wiora discuss the Joyce Awards program and application process. LOIs are due on Sept. 11, 2023. New applicants should create accounts by Sept. 6, 2023.

Grantee Spotlight

Ron OJ Parson

Acclaimed director/actor Ron OJ Parson is in a season of radical reflection. In a 50-year career that most creatives dream of, Parson has become one of the nation’s pre-eminent theater directors. Learn more about his work here.


2024 Joyce Awards applications open: Grants increased to $100K each

Now accepting applications for the 2024 Joyce Awards


2023 Joyce Awards Announcement

We’re thrilled to announce the 2023 winners of our Joyce Awards, which support the creation of community-driven new works by artists of color in partnership with organizations in the Great Lakes region.

Grantee Spotlight

They Got NEXT — Chicago Sinfonietta Celebrates 35 Years

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chicago Sinfonietta, like so many organizations, was forced to reimagine itself, pivoting programming and performances to a fully virtual space.

Chicago Sinfonietta


Joyce Awards Information Session - August 2022

Culture director Mia Khimm and grants manager Lynne Wiora discuss the Joyce Awards program and the application process. LOIs are due on September 12, 2022. New applicants should create accounts by September 7, 2022.


2022 Joyce Awards Announcement

Five innovative new projects by pioneering artists of color spanning the visual, performing, and multidisciplinary arts that engage diverse communities in Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis-St. Paul will receive this year’s annual awards.


The “Full-Circle” Moment of Nick Cave and Forothermore

Recent work by Internationally acclaimed, Chicago-based artist and Joyce Awards winner Nick Cave.