By: Diane Stirling
A graduate of the School of Information Studies (iSchool) was honored recently with the 2014 Award for Excellence in Theatre Arts Education by The Threatre Museum.
Robert Diamond, who received a bachelor’s degree in information systems and technology from the iSchool in 2001, and who is chief executive officer and editor-in-chief of BroadwayWorld.com, accepted the recognition from Theatre Museum Chairman Stewart F. Lane at a gala event.
The honors recognized the role that Diamond and his news and informational web site have played in supporting and furthering theatre education. The Theatre Museum’s mission is to preserve, protect, and perpetuate the legacy of the theatre, and it is the first and only chartered non-profit museum dedicated to the history of the theatre industry.
Founded by Diamond in 2003, BroadwayWorld.com is the largest theatre site on the Internet. It covers news and events of Broadway, the West End and beyond, circulating to 100 U.S. cities and 35 countries worldwide, and having five million monthly visitors. The site delivers up-to-the-minute Broadway, off-Broadway, and regional theatre news, plus in-depth interviews, photo coverage, and video features. It also hosts message boards, offers ticket discounts, and provides reviews.
The site has supported theater education in schools since its inception by hosting Student Centers on the site. The popular online resources spotlight theatre productions and education taking place in elementary schools, high schools, and colleges throughout the U.S. and beyond.
Diamond said he “couldn’t be prouder, or more honored to be honored,” in regard to the museum’s recognition. He said BroadwayWorld.com “has always been committed to doing what we can to promote all things education,” noting that the student centers initially were provided to offset the cuts being made to theatre programming and education in school systems because of financial stresses the schools were facing.
The Student Centers contain huge databases of archived student productions at every level, so that other school groups can access information, observe how other schools are approaching certain shows, and get ideas or help regarding production challenges they face. The site also provides weekly and monthly story features on theatre programs and teachers who are producing shows, as well as providing a central source for alumni connections.
Diamond came to the iSchool after beginning his Syracuse University career in computer science, saying the iSchool’s focus on business and technology turned out to be a better fit. He had worked while in high school for a company that published magazines for web developers. A self-described “early geek,” he soon became the company’s webmaster and eventually was put in charge of web functions, even as a student. About that time, his parents introduced him to Broadway theatre, and he quickly became a fan, finding a way to merge his new interests with his tech skills. Diamond maintained a fan site on Broadway star Michael Crawford (the original Broadway “Phantom of the Opera”) during college, then went back to work for the publishing company for a couple years after his SU graduation.
Over the past year, Diamond has expanded his concept to launch an additional 14 websites. Those sister platforms cover television, fashion, travel, fitness, “and everything in between—news and information on lifestyles and entertainment. The sites have 275 worldwide contributors and a full-time staff of 12.
Diamond works from an office “filled with 14 computer screens,” where the work “changes every day,” he said. “I feel like throughout the day, it’s one-third CEO, one-third playing editor-in-chief, and one-third ‘Chief Geek,” he suggested. “I consider myself very lucky to have found a way to combine what I’m good at with what I love.”