Home News & Events Tyrone Phillips receives inaugural Peter Capell Award for Midwestern Creativity & Entrepreneurship

Tyrone Phillips receives inaugural Peter Capell Award for Midwestern Creativity & Entrepreneurship

Arts Midwest is thrilled to announce that Tyrone Phillips, founding artistic director at Definition Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, has won the inaugural Peter Capell Award for Midwestern Creativity & Entrepreneurship.


Photo by Joe Mazza at Brave Lux.

Definition Theatre celebrates stories created with, inspired by, and intended for individuals and communities of color. Through the act of making, they expand perspectives, steward resources, and bridge the immense possibility found at the intersection of art, innovation, and education. Phillips has worked as the organization’s artistic director since its founding in 2012 and is currently leading a capital campaign for the organization’s new home in Chicago’s Southside neighborhood of Woodlawn. As part of this new home, Definition will offer a safe environment in the Woodlawn community for theater-making, provide professional career development opportunities for a new generation of theater artists, and serve as a business incubator for BIPOC entrepreneurs.

Named one of Newcity’s Players—the 50 leaders of Chicago’s theater, dance, opera, and comedy culture of 2022, Phillips is a distinguished graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has studied abroad at Shakespeare’s Globe. As a first generation Jamaican American, he is enthusiastic about equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in the fine arts and film industry and has completed advanced anti-racism training to change leadership styles, systemic practices, and policies that hinder access and growth for communities of culture.

“Tyrone Phillips is an inspiration,” said Peter Capell. “His work with Definition Theatre exemplifies creative entrepreneurship. I’m particularly impressed with Definition’s outreach to the community, development of artistic talent, and commitment to the Woodlawn neighborhood.”

“Tyrone has been steadfast in his vision for the community since he launched his theatre in 2012,” said Gordon Liao, founder & managing partner of Promise Holdings LLC, one of Definition’s programmatic partners. “Many would have felt discouraged during the pandemic. But Tyrone and his team pushed on and have launched new programs, furthered their capital campaign, expanded their board of directors, continued to make art, gave back to the community through mask donations, backpacks, holiday gifts, and more. He is a true entrepreneur with a rare commitment to community.”

“I am honored to be recognized in such a unique way and to represent all of the amazing leaders in Illinois who think creatively and strive to make big dreams a reality every single day,” said Phillips. “I share this award with my incredible ensemble at Definition Theatre, who continue to push the needle of equity forward for artists and entrepreneurs.”

The Peter Capell Award for Midwestern Creativity & Entrepreneurship celebrates Midwesterners in the creative sector whose work demonstrates entrepreneurial thinking and business acumen. It was created in 2022 to honor longtime Arts Midwest Board member and former Board Chair Peter Capell. The 2022 award was open to individuals located in Illinois. The 2023 award will be available next summer, with more details to come in spring 2023.