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7 Apr

LSA voting process, deconstructed

LSA voting process

Every year we hear of artists, designers and all sorts of celebrities complaining about the Lux Style Awards’ nominations and the unfairness of not seeing their names on the list. There is hue and cry and speculation around the judging and voting process, which is always declared unfair and partisan. This year has been no different; there has been a lot of chatter around the voting process where many critics have claimed that the jury process isn’t transparent enough. According to skeptics, some deserving artists didn’t make it to the awards this year.

It’s only natural for an awards show to get critiqued because such is the nature of awards shows; they inspire the spirit of competition. And at the end of the day, there are five nominees out of dozens of competing artistes and there is one winner amongst the five nominees. That leaves a lot of disgruntled individuals. However, while everyone has an opinion, when it comes to awarding excellence, one has to respect an informed opinion otherwise everyone would be getting an award for simply existing.

Even the Oscar nominations are studied in great detail, every year, prior to the actual award ceremony and various journalists and critics make extensive lists of all the artists that should or should not have been nominated. People talk about it endlessly; ‘Why didn’t so and so get nominated? Why did this film get so many nominations? We thought so and so director was really good’.  But at the end of it all, the decision lies in the hands of a competent jury that is responsible for making informed decisions. And if you’re on the Oscar’s jury, it means that you must have proven your worth to land a spot there. Such is the case with the LSAs but unfortunately it still ends up getting flak.

Instep got in touch with Fareshteh Aslam, Awards Manager at the Lux Style Awards, in order to understand how the list of nominees is generated. We also discussed how the winners are decided and it turns out that the process varies a little from category to category.

“Starting off alphabetically, let’s first talk about the fashion category,” said Aslam when we got in touch with her over the phone. “The fashion jury consists of leading fashion journalists, editors and critics who are regularly seen attending fashion shows and studying fashion all year round. These jurors do a recap of the past year, discussing the collections of designers, going through the received portfolios and they come up with a list of the top five nominees for each category.” We asked Aslam whether the list of fashion jurors is ever revealed to the public. “No, we keep it hidden to protect the identity of the jurors otherwise they might be targeted or attacked later.”

Once the list of nominees is revealed, other artists from the industry and ex LSA nominees are invited for the voting session. “Nearly 50 people from the industry are invited for this voting session.” This larger pool of jurors then selects the winner for the fashion awards.

Aslam explained that the process for film, TV and music is slightly different. “We first invite the ex nominees and industry experts who review the body of work from last year. They pick the top five names which are then presented to the public. These are the viewer’s choice awards where the public gets to vote for their favourites.” So the winners for the awards for Best Actor and Best Actress, for instance, are chosen by the public.

However, Aslam is quick to clarify that none of the technical awards are in the viewer’s choice category. “For instance, the Best Video Director is decided by the music jury while the Song of the Year is voted on by the public.” It goes without saying that technical awards cannot be analyzed by laymen and can only be decided on by a technical expert himself.

Aslam further clarified that no one from the LSA team can vote for the winners. “I can’t vote for the winners; none of the stylists or directors working on the show can vote.” This ensures that the voting is fair and unbiased. The entire process is also supervised by professional auditors from Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG), a professional service company and one of the Big Four auditors which include the likes of Ernst and Young (EY), Deloitte and the famous PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the company responsible for the Oscars.

This year, the LSA jury has gotten bigger. “Earlier we used to hear this critique that the jury is too small and only a handful gets to decide the winners. So we’ve decided to open it up and have a larger group of people. The idea is to make it more transparent and also to include the entire industry.” Aslam also revealed that the number of voters has increased this year. “We had 60 people for each category.”

Contrary to popular opinion, the LSA jury isn’t made up of ten to fifteen people who decide on everything. There is an extensive process behind selecting nominees and winners. “Our auditors from KPMG are also always present throughout the voting process, from start to finish. They ensure that the voting is conducted smoothly and fairly.”

Why does the LSA receive so much criticism then? “I don’t know a single award platform that doesn’t get criticized because there will always be one winner and three or more losers. That’s to be expected.” Speaking of whether she thinks this new format will work out or not, Aslam remained hopeful. “We are going to try this format this year and if it works then we’ll continue it next year as well.”

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Manal Faheem Khan

The author is Contributing Editor at Something Haute who has studied film and journalism from SZABIST. Will be found at the gym if not in the office.