Op-Ed

See young local artists take flight

TNS

What if you could be the first to see the next Kerry Washington, Josh Groban, Nicki Minaj or Ricky Ubeda, years before they became renowned artists? Better yet, what if you could say you’d witnessed the next generation of incredibly talented artists when they were still of high-school age and that you had personally encouraged them to pursue their passion for their craft?

That’s exactly the opportunity we are offering South Floridians from March 13-15, when the National YoungArts Foundation presents YoungArts Miami.

You don’t have to be a Hollywood scout to get in early on the excitement that dozens of talented artists create. Nor do you have to be a Hollywood producer to help these young people take the next step to becoming professional artists. All you need to do is drop by the beautiful YoungArts Campus on Biscayne Boulevard, or attend events being presented at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach. And everyone is invited.

What, exactly, is YoungArts Miami? It’s your chance to be amazed at the wonderful accomplishments of more than a hundred teen-age artists from South Florida — young people from all walks of life who are already doing remarkably high-quality work and are poised for professional success.

It’s your introduction to tomorrow’s actors, dancers, singers, filmmakers, photographers, painters, sculptors, designers, writers, classical instrumentalists and jazz musicians. YoungArts Miami is our young people at their very best.

Every one of them, literally, is a winner. We choose the participants from more than 11,000 candidates across the country who apply each year to our competitive program. We showcase the winners during our National YoungArts Week and also in three regional programs designed to celebrate the achievements of the young artists in the New York, Los Angeles and Miami areas.

It’s an honor in itself to be designated a YoungArts Winner, but there’s also a valuable benefit: Each participant in YoungArts Miami has the opportunity to receive a cash award of up to $5,000. Each can engage in talks and master classes with legendary figures such as Marina Abramovic, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Plácido Domingo, Frank Gehry, Bill T. Jones and Jeff Koons.

In many ways, members of the community are the most valuable benefit these winners receive, giving them the audience that every artist needs, the way eagles need the sky.

For our winners, participation in YoungArts Miami is the culmination of years of dedicated effort. But for anyone who wants to see them, it’s easy. With the click of a computer mouse, they can reserve a place, for free, at the March 13 events on the YoungArts Campus. Starting at 6:30 p.m., we’ll be hosting an art, design and photography exhibition in the gallery, and presenting film screenings, readings by YoungArts writers and performances by YoungArts jazz ensembles.

Community members can tap their phones for affodable tickets to see voice, dance, theater and music presentations on March 14 and 15 at the Colony Theatre.

These three days will be a life-changing experience for the artists. YoungArts has been recognizing and supporting these brilliant young people since 1981. The organization has amassed a roster of more than 20,000 alumni, including stellar artists such as Viola Davis, Hernan Bas, Doug Aitken, Terence Blanchard, Jennifer Koh, Jenji Kohan, Sam Lipsyte, Andrew Rannells and Desmond Richardson.

We have provided more than $12 million in monetary awards and have facilitated more than $60 million in college scholarship opportunities in just the past two years.

We never forget, though, that it all starts at home. That’s why we want our South Florida winners to be recognized by the audience in their own community, and why we want everyone in the community to have a chance to get to know the artists who are springing up from our own soil.

Some of these artists are destined for a trip to the White House, for Grammy and Tony awards, for the Pulitzer Prize or the Oscars. Come see what they can do.

For information on YoungArts Miami and to RSVP or buy a ticket, visit: www.youngarts.org

/youngarts-miami

Paul T. Lehr is president & CEO of the National YoungArts Foundation.

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