Jon Palmer Claridge is a pioneer of the “Arts Incubator” movement. He popularized the term nationally with his 1991 American Theatre column, “An Incubator for New Voices,” highlighting the Arlington, VA model he co-created. The incubator received the $100,000 Ford Foundation/Harvard University Innovations in American Government Award (1996) and D.C.’s Helen Hayes Award for Distinguished Community Service (2001). Dubbed the “Great Encourager” in Washington City Paper by Newbery Medal winner Kwame Alexander, Mr. Claridge also received the 1994 Horizon’s Theatre BRAVO! Award for his service to Washington theatre. From he was VP of the League of Washington Theatres. In 2008, Jon chaired the host committee for the American Theatre Critics’ Association D.C conference and developed a regional 12-play “bus & truck” conference program that resulted in Arlington’s Signature Theatre being tapped by the critics for the 2009 Regional Theatre TONY Award.
In a forty-year career, he performed, directed, designed or produced 2000+ events across the arts’ spectrum with a diverse group of artists including theatre icon Lotte Lenya, cellist Yo Yo Ma, jazz legend Ahmad Jamal, Graham muse Janet Eilber and the late songbird Eva Cassidy. He’s been involved in international arts exchange with France, Germany, Ireland and Mexico and served as a State Department cultural ambassador to Argentina lecturing on “Cultura & Democracy.” A long-time Helen Hayes Awards’ nominator and judge, he served as their Senior Advisor for Theatre Affairs and created a professional development program for judges prior to relocating to Tampa Bay. Jon holds a B.F.A./Acting from Florida State and an M.F.A./Directing from the Catholic University of America. He is a founding member of Theatre Tampa Bay, where as Board President from he created the TTB Awards judging panel process, the Jeff Norton Dream Grant, and the offstage honorific Spark Awards