College of the Arts ‘elder statesman’ recognized as AUDELCO Torchbearer

Published: December 22 2014

Category:Arts, Awards & Honors, InsideUF

Michael “Mikell” Pinkney, associate professor at the University of Florida School of Theatre + Dance, is one of six people named a 2014 AUDELCO Torchbearer.

Pinkney was recognized by AUDELCO (Audience Development Committee, Inc.) at a ceremony in the Dwyer Center in Harlem, New York.

 Torchbearers are artists who have won awards in the past and have continued to make recognizable contributions to black theatre production and practice in the New York City area over the past 42 years of the organization’s existence.  AUDELCO was established and incorporated in 1973 by the late Vivian Robinson, to stimulate interest in, and support of performing arts in black communities. The awards were named the “VIVs” in honor of Robinson following her death in 1996.

 “I am highly honored by this recognition, which represents acknowledgement of my many years of service to the black theatre and solidifies my position as an ‘elder statesman’ in this community,” said Pinkney. 

 He was recognized for his many years serving as founding artistic director at The Billie Holiday Theatre in New York, and founding artistic director at the Harmonie Park Playhouse in Detroit, where he developed award-winning resident acting companies at each location. He holds AUDELCO Awards for both acting and directing, and, in 1981, Pinkney became the youngest African American to direct for the Broadway stage — a record that still stands.

 At the ceremony, each honoree was pinned by Mary B. Davis, one of the original founders and chair emeritus of AUDELCO. Each Torchbearer then recognized and presented a young artist of their choosing to “pass on the torch” by introducing and pinning the young artist as a new “bearer of the torch.” Pinkney pinned Reginald L. Wilson, a 2011 graduate of the School of Theatre + Dance’s MFA acting program. This year’s ceremony paid homage to the late actress Ms. Ruby Dee.

“The School of Theatre + Dance faculty is extremely pleased to learn that Mikell Pinkney’s many achievements have earned such prestigious recognition by AUDELCO,” said Jerry Dickey, director of the School of Theatre + Dance. “At the UF level, Dr. Pinkney has made lasting contributions to the theatre curriculum, stage productions and student recruitment. He has been instrumental in diversifying our student majors and in mentoring students on all levels. He has raised awareness of African-American theatre through his sponsorship of the Black History Variety Show, performed annually by students in our school. We know him to be gem among our faculty, and it is gratifying to see that his contributions are being recognized far beyond our campus.”

For more information, please contact Leah Craig at (352) 273-1489 or

To learn more about the University of Florida School of Theatre + Dance, please visit


Category:Arts, Awards & Honors, InsideUF