The Jeff Awards committee, organized in 1968, consists of up to 55 people with various backgrounds in theatre, united by an active interest and concern for the advancement of Chicago theatre. The committee evaluates approximately 250 theatrical productions and holds two awards ceremonies annually. Originally chartered to recognize only Equity productions, the committee established the Non-Equity wing in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non-union Chicago theatre.
Who are the Jeff Awards judges? They are Stage Directors (56%), Performers (61%), produced Playwrights (29%), Theatre Producers (34%), Theatre Educators (57%), Theatre Board Members (48%), Scenic Designers (23%), published Theatre Critics (18%), Musicians (21%), Dialect Coaches (14%), Costume Designers (13%), Stage Managers (25%) and every other theatre position imaginable. Each Jeff judge sees up to 150 productions per season. Being on the Jeff Awards for just a few years results in seeing thousands of shows. The diverse group of Jeff judges represent all age groups (from the 20's to the 70's) and what they all have in common is their love of Chicago theatre and the ability to recognize excellence. Jeff judges meet regularly for discussion forums with working theatre professionals and continually strive to sharpen their judging skills.