By Holli Harms

The National YoungArts Foundation provides artists ages 15-18 (the “passionate, ambitious and young”) the opportunity to meet like-minded peers, and to create together and find the depths and cores of their talents. Last year, YoungArts named 686 YoungArts award winners in three categories: Finalist, Honorable Mention, Merit. In a non-COVID world, the top artists, the Finalists, approximately 150 artists from across the country, are the ones who go to Miami.  Past recipients have been Kerry Washington, Billie Porter, Timothee’ Chalamet, Josh Groban, to name just the tip of the iceberg.YoungArts programs offer young artists working with mentors in their chosen discipline, learning from these professionals, and collaborating together with the other winners. Musicians composing music for dancers, photographers capturing the movement of painters, actors and singers working with all of the above, and so on and so on in a myriad of combinations. It is for many the first time they are exposed in such a concentrated way with like minds, much less those who excel in other disciplines. For some, the first time they find themselves within a community of fellow artists.

National YoungArts Foundation identifies the most accomplished young artists and provides them with creative and professional development opportunities, doing all it can to help support the artists throughout their careers. Literally, an NYA winner is a member of the NYA family for life. For example, in this time of the pandemic, they have created the Microgrant Programs which are Emergency Funds and Project-Based Grants for those YoungArts Alumni across the ten disciplines left in dire economic straits.

National YoungArts Foundation is devoted to establishing and supporting our next generation of artists. It has become such a beacon for the talented and committed that schools such as Juilliard and Yale pay attention to an NYA application for their conservatories.YoungArts is so committed to this mission that the financial needs of any Finalist that is chosen need not be a factor in attending the week-long intensive in Miami, as it is an all-expense-paid program for these young artists.

But the Miami gathering of those winners is not the only opportunity a young artist in this country has for gaining the prestige of saying they have been chosen by the NYA. There are also regional programs that are again week-long intensives in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. These regional programs have the same focus as the national Miami convergence, in that they have individualized and focused masterclasses and collaboration; the only big difference is that not all will need housing as some will be in their hometown or close to it, and they do not have performances every night as does the week-long in Miami, just two to three performances during the week.

This year, of course, YoungArts award winners will not be able to come together, so they will have all virtual programs. The applicants will still get face time with accomplished professionals in their field of choice, as well as, face time to collaborate virtually with other participants in an online venue. The same virtual coming together is being looked at for the regional programs.

We all benefit from this extraordinary institution as the arts are so important to our lives. How amazing to have such a program in this country! Something made obvious in this time, where youtube showings of theatre, dance, and music have so many attending from around the world that may have not had the opportunity outside this media link. Thanks, National YoungArts Foundation for nurturing and inspiring our future artists.

National YoungArts Foundation is accepting applications through October 16, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The YoungArts award competition is open to accomplished artists (1) between the ages of 15–18 or in high school grades 10–12 (as of December 1, 2020) (2) that are United States citizens or permanent residents and (3) that demonstrate excellence in Classical Music, Dance, Design Arts, Film, Jazz, Photography, Theater, Visual Arts, Voice or Writing. For application inquiries please call (305) 377-1140 or email Apply online HERE 

YoungArts has also increased project-based Creative Microgrants committing to offer up to $5,000 per month to alumni. Creative Microgrants may be requested for expenses related to professional development or creative works-in-progress prior to the work taking place. Applications will be selected by a rotating panel of YoungArts staff and alumni. Creative Microgrants for past NYA winners go Here to sign in.

For more information, visit, or Website. National YoungArts FB   

Examples of collaborations with NYA winners:

Caleb Teicher (2011 YoungArts Winner in Dance) and Conrad Tao (2011 YoungArts winner in Music) have developed a lasting artistic relationship. You can see more about their work together HERE.

Yara Travieso (2005 YoungArts Winner in Dance) has worked with Tarell A. McCraney (1999 YoungArts Winner in Theater) and Rebekah Lalae Lengel (2000 YoungArts Winner in Writing), both as Executive Producers and Andrew Hevia (2003 YoungArts winner in Writing) as the Producer on the film “Third Trinity” – that also includes original artwork by visual arts mentor Loni Johnson.

Shamel Pitts (2003 YoungArts Winner in Dance), who will be participating in YoungArts’ Dance Residence at New York Live Arts later this month, also choreographed a piece performed by Nouhoum Koita (2020 YoungArts Winner in Dance & U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts) at National YoungArts Week 2020. The performance can be found HERE:

The Emmet Cohen Trio, a jazz band based here in New York and lead by Emmet Cohen (2009 Winner in Jazz) includes Russell Hall (2012 YoungArts Winner in Jazz), Kyle Poole (YoungArts mentor).
Emmet talks about the YoungArts community here in case that is also helpful: HERE