The Teeny Awards, an annual ceremony run by TeenTix to honor their partner organizations and art’s collision with teens in the Seattle community, is something of a mecca for the artistically inclined youth in the area. However, I’d never heard of the awards before I volunteered to write this piece. Reminiscing on my memories of past awards events, I expected a bowl of Ritz crackers, a seemingly bored keynote speaker, and a few merits that would be given for criteria that I wasn’t totally sure were met by the winners. I’d heard glowing praises of this event, though, so I entered with an open mind.
The author and friends at the Red Carpet Photobooth at the 2018 Teeny Awards. Photo by John Ulman.
I had to loiter outside for a few minutes before walking in, since I was waiting on my friend. I also just had to stop and pick up a ‘Swag Bag,’ where I got a few buttons and a bunch of vouchers and tickets to get into arts events around the city. Just inside the door, the vibe of the room hit me. The noise of people talking, the hubbub of people in costumes and running around. The vibe, in that way, was amazing.
My friend and I took photos in the booth area and voted on our favorite Partner Organization, which involved placing little gems in the Mason Jar of our favorite. Nearby, there was a guy doing caricatures (he made my hair utterly gigantic) and a few people floating around with clip boards for the raffle (I didn’t partake as I didn’t have any change).
Teens voting for their favorite partner organization at the 2018 Teeny Awards. Photo by Bronwen Houck Photography.
After about an hour of the pre-show festivities, which totally flew by, we all filed into the presentation room to see the show. Arson Nicki opened the event, with a trippy slowed-down version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone.” I’ve seen Arson before, and this little number totally fit with the vibe of eccentricity and the sort of slutty mess aesthetic that I’ve grown to love.
The New Guardians, members of TeenTix’s Teen Arts Leadership Society, blended seamlessly with the hosts as they announced the winners in the various categories. There were also a few other performances throughout the event, including a bit by ComedySportz; a reading by Azura Mizan Tybaji, Seattle’s current Youth Poet Laureate; and a song by 2018 MoPOP Sound Off! Finalist, Claudine Magbag. (See profiles on all the Teeny Awards performers HERE.)
During the ComedySportz portion, the troupe improvised scenes using topics the audience suggested, as you do in improv. The show consisted of two teams competing to win the loudest audience approval. The sketches got the crowd laughing and further loosened up the already spirited mood.
Seattle’s current Youth Poet Laureate, Azura Mizan Tybaji, at the 2018 Teeny Awards. Photo by Bronwen Houck Photography.
Tyabi’s reading, in their exploration of mental health and finding ways to cope, darkened the feel of the evening. I don’t know about the rest of the crowd, but I connected to what she was saying, and the mood in the room definitely changed.
When Magbag played, she set the soundtrack to your deepest teenage fantasies. The music had hints of melancholy and hope, mixed via an acoustic track and mournful vocals.
The show ended with the presentation of a few larger awards with more general categories. One that stuck in my mind was the ‘In Your Backyard’ award, which celebrated an arts venue not located in the Seattle city limits. As someone from out in the sticks (Renton), it’s refreshing to see offerings by smaller communities being honored on such a stage, right alongside The 5th Avenue Theatre and the Seattle Opera. (See the full list of awardees HERE.)
Aside from the cupcakes, there was a lot to love. The Teeny Awards were far from the corporate attempt to relate to teens that I semi-expected; instead, I was met with vivacious energy and a burning passion for art in all its permutations. Not only that, but the Teeny Awards were a celebration of the arts in their relation to my age group, by people in my age group. The awards are a movement born of love towards the arts—like all good things, driven by passion—and a love letter to the Seattle community for its role in TeenTix’s mission. Now, you can call me biased, but I think that’s pretty cool.
The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.
Read more about the Teeny Awards and see the full list of awardees HERE.