The Portsmouth Area Arts Council and Children’s Theatre established a scholarship for graduating members of the Senior Company and gave three $500 awards this spring following the production of “Sweeney Todd: School Edition.”
The Arts Council formed the Children’s Theatre in the summer of 2010 with the goal of providing quality community theatre experiences to the youth of the region.
“Our artistic director, Susan Foster, had done a decades worth of summer theatre workshops at Portsmouth Little Theatre and we realized that outside of that program, our children didn’t have consistent community musical theatre opportunities during the school year,” said Becky Lovins, PAAC executive director. “We were amazed at the response and participation we experienced our first season with over 100 local students signed up as members.”
The growth of the Children’s Theatre led the steering committee and PAAC Board of Governors to look, from the start, at developing a scholarship fund for members of the Theatre who graduate with plans to study the arts in college.
“I have worked with these kids year after year during the summer and see not only their talent on stage, but their potential to be successful artists and professionals as adults,” Foster said. “Being able to give scholarships to help support their education is especially satisfying.”
The scholarship is available to graduating members of the Senior Company who have participated in at least two shows. Participation includes both on-stage as an actor and backstage as technical crew. The application process scores the applicants based on academic performance, community involvement, work experience and theatre experience.
“We designed the application to be as fair as possible to different types of students and not just to the ‘best’ actor or most successful academically. In the theatre community, you have wide variety of students who all have strengths in different areas, “ Lovins said.
After the applications were scored by a panel of readers from the Children’s Theatre steering committee and PAAC Board of Trustees, three applicants stood out.
Awards were given to Jordan Nickles from Northwest High School, Drew Cunningham from Portsmouth West High School and Hannah Storey from Notre Dame High School. All three were cast members in “Into the Woods” in the spring of 2011 and “Sweeney Todd: School Edition” in 2012.
“The Portsmouth Area Arts Council has created a program that truly embraces the artistic needs of the younger talent that exists in this area, something that many schools lack nowadays,” said Nickles, who played the title character in Sweeney Todd. “The scholarship that the PAAC now offers takes that extra step in ensuring that people like me have some incentive to pursue their dream of making a career of theater.”
“I am extremely proud to have been a part of, not only the first group of PAAC scholarship recipients, but also the casts and crews of the children’s Theater’s first productions,” said Storey, who played a leading role in Sweeney Todd. “It is important that people recognize the impact of the arts in our community and I fully believe that this scholarship will enable young actors in this area to further their involvement in the arts through education for years to come.”
“The PAAC scholarship is a great way to help further our goals in the arts in college,” said Cunningham, who has had various leading roles under the direction of Foster. “It helps both financially as well as giving incentive to pursue the arts throughout the rest of our lives and I am lucky to have been one of the first recipients of this award.”
The Portsmouth Area Arts Council will offer the scholarship again in 2013. Applications will be available in December 2012 and due in February 2013. The number of awards will be determined by the number and merit of the applications received. The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this program/organization with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.
For more information about the Portsmouth Area Arts Council and Children’s Theatre, email email@example.com or call 740-351-3642. Arts Council events and information can also be found at their facebook page by liking “Portsmouth Area Arts Council.”
Source: Rebecca Lovins