A special award for contribution to San Antonio theatre was presented along with the very first Alamo Theatre Arts Council (ATAC) Globe Awards in 1991. In 1997 the award was named The Jasmina Wellinghoff Award in honor of the local San Antonio theatre critic and founding member of ATAC after she stepped down as president of the organization.
The Wellinghoff Award is an annual award presented by ATAC to a person or persons for special contribution to theatre in San Antonio. It is not a “Lifetime Achievement Award,” or “Excellence Award”. In Jasmina Wellinghoff’s own words:
There is a good reason the award was defined in terms of ‘Special Contribution.’ It’s the broadest and least limiting category. The idea was to be able to recognize an exceptional contribution by a range of people, not only theater artists, although it certainly included them as well. For instance, John Igo and Jo Long were recipients. Igo, for his years of support and criticism, and Long, who was the director of the Carver, for bringing to town exceptional and interesting companies from all over the world and exposing San Antonio audiences to their theater arts. She also helped local artists produce their work at the Carver. Age or length of time of any kind is not a determining factor but a person’s consistent contributions are more likely to be noticed and appreciated if that person is active in his or her capacity for a certain length of time. However, should someone do something truly exceptional in a single year, that person could conceivably qualify for the award.
Merit, in this case, is something broader than the quality of one’s acting, or designing, or directing. A dedicated volunteer could be recognized or, say, a public servant who fights for the improvement of funding, or a photographer who regularly donates his time to record theatrical productions, etc. You get the idea. Of course, actors, directors, choreographers, music directors and designers can qualify as well, and, in fact, most award winners have come from their ranks.
Candidates for the Jasmina Wellinghoff Award are chosen by majority vote by the ATAC board of directors who examine the contributions of each nominee as a guide during the selection process. Past winners have included directors, designers, educators, actors, critics, producers, stage managers and those who have held positions in theatre organizations.
1992 – Maureen Halligan, Developed the theatre program and Resident Company at the Univ. of the Incarnate Word
1993 – Jackie Sparks, Choreographer
1994 – Jo Long, Producer, The Carver Community Cultural Center
1995 – John Igo, Theater critic
1996 – Alice Finney, Actress
1997 – Al Keller, Actor
1998 – Sr. Germaine Corbin, Educator, Univ. of the Incarnate Word
1999 – Sterling Houston, Playwright, Artistic Director of Jump-Start Performance Co.
2000 – Frank Christian, Actor, Trustee Russell Hill Rogers Fund for the Arts.
2001 – Allan S. Ross, Director, Designer, Actor, Educator, San Antonio College, ATAC president, SATCO president.
Also in 2001, a Special Award was given to the Renaissance Guild for their Act One Series
2002 – George Burnette, Set and lighting Designer, Educator, University of the Incarnate Word
2003 – Dan Laurence, Actor, director, educator, author, George Bernard Shaw scholar
2004 – Mary Denman, Actress, TV and radio personality, fundraiser for the San Pedro Playhouse
2005 – Gloria Liu, Choreographer, director
2006 – Steve Gilliam, Nationally recognized Set Designer and Educator, Trinity University
2007 – Tammy and Ken Frazier, Costume and set design and direction, Vexler Theatre
2008 – Margaret Mitchell, Costume designer, University of the Incarnate Word
2009 – Jim Mammarella, Educator at San Antonio College, director, actor, ATAC president
2010 – Bill and Francis Swinny, Francis: Educator at Trinity Univ., Bill: Educator at Alamo Heights HS
2011 – Susan Breidenbach, Stage Manager at local theatres.
2012 – Richard Rosen, Founder and Director of Magik Theatre
2013 – Dr. William McCrary and Michelle Pietri, Directors at UTSA and Other San Antonio Community Theatres
2014 – Richard Slocum, Educator, Our Lady of the Lake University and Founder/Director of 24th Street Experiment
2015 – Rick and Diane Malone, Classic Theatre Founders and Director/Designers
2016 – John O’Neill, Actor, Director, actor, educator
2017 – Jodi Karjala and Tim Francis, Designers
2018 – R.C. Thor, Actor, philanthropist.
2019 – Deborah Martin, Arts Editor, San Antonio Express-News
2020 – Due to concerns regarding Covid-19 the ATAC Board voted to postpone the ATAC Globe Awards
2021 – MaLuisa Garza-Olivo, Prop Mistress