The American Theatre Wing announced today the recipients of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative 4-Year University Scholarships and the Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative Training Scholarships. These scholarships represent the Wing’s most aggressive investment in direct support for underserved public school students demonstrating exceptional talent and economic need to continue their study of theater.

“Heather Hitchens and her committee have done a spectacular job in finding truly extraordinary students of theater to support with these scholarships. Each person on this list is a shining example of why this kind of investment is so vital to the continuation of the art form,” said Andrew Lloyd Webber.

“The process of going through the hundreds of applications for these scholarships underscored not just the overwhelming need for this kind of financial support, but also the incredible talent and promise in every region of the country,” said Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing. “These twenty-five students represent some of the finest examples of passionate and committed young artists I’ve ever seen, and I’m thrilled that the Wing is able to help them on their journey to deepening their theatre practice.”

“Serving on the panel was such a joy and so eye-opening for me,” said Bernard Telsey, member of the Andrew Lloyd Webber University Scholarships Panel. “The students’ applications reminded me why we do what we do and the effect that theatre has on young people. I’m so thrilled that they’ll get the additional support to go to college to further pursue their passion for the arts. Mark my words, they will be the next generation of stage managers, set designers and actors.”

“It was an honor to be part of the selection panel. As an educator who knows firsthand the value of a quality arts education for young artists, I am convinced that these scholarships will have a transformative impact on the lives of the diverse, bright, and talented students we selected. It was a thrill to be part of a process seeking to give access to the arts to young people that truly represent our country’s rich cultural and ethnic tapestry,” said Alexander Santiago-Jirau, member of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Training Scholarships Panel.

Additionally, it was announced today that Village Voice owner and Obie Awards co-presenter Peter Barbey and wife Pamela Barbey have generously donated $500,000 towards the American Theatre Wing’s Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative through the Edwin Barbey Charitable Trust. In addition, they have pledged to match others’ donations for investment in the future of the initiative, dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 for the next two years. Funds raised by this matching challenge will be used to establish a new program reserve fund for the future stability and enhancement of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative.

“I have immensely enjoyed working with the Wing and its accomplished staff over the past two years co-presenting the Obie Awards, and Pamela and I have particularly admired the work that they have done expanding access to theater education alongside the venerable Lord Lloyd Webber. We are delighted that the Edwin Barbey Charitable Trust will help expand the initiative this coming year. In addition, we hope our matching challenge will encourage others to join us in support so that even more young people can develop their creative potential.” said Peter Barbey.

High School students in Grade 12 who demonstrated talent and ability in the theater arts, but lack the resources to attend a four-year university program, were eligible to apply for the 4-Year University Scholarships. These scholarships can be used at an accredited private or public university or college in the United States. Each of the scholars are provided with scholarships of up to $10,000 towards their course fees, renewable for four years so long as a minimum GPA of 3.0 is maintained. The selected students include:

  • production designer/technician Natalia Avila of Houston, TX, who will attend the University of Oklahoma
  • stage manager Carrli Cooper of Winter Garden, FL, who will attend the University of Michigan
  • actor Kaisheem Fowler-Bryant of Bronx, NY, who will attend Howard University
  • actor Marcus Gladney of Huntsville, AL, who will attend Carnegie Mellon University
  • actor Grace Pruitt of Ashland, OR, who will attend Azusa Pacific University

Public Middle and High School students who demonstrated talent and ability in the theater arts, but have a lack of resources to receive high level training prior to college were eligible to apply for the Training Scholarships. These scholarships can be used for Private or Group Voice, Dance, or Music lessons; theatre training programs that stand alone or are housed in professional theatre settings; theatre training camps; or special training opportunities. The selected students include:

  • Eugene Bois of Marietta, GA, who will attend the International Summer Dance program at Point Park University
  • Destiny Cable of Pacoima, CA, who will attend the Musical Theatre Summer Institute at UCLA
  • Colette Caspari of Cumming, GA, who will attend the Nexus Musical Theatre Summer Camp
  • Quinn Chisenhall of Quinton, VA, who will attend the Pre-College Stage Design Studio Program at Emerson College
  • Jamia Croft of Louisville, KY, who will attend the Summer Dance Intensive at the Cincinnati Ballet
  • Daelin Elzie of Manvel, TX, who will receive after-school voice lessons at Theatre Under the Stars
  • Aaron Graham of Riverview, FL, who will attend New York Film Academy’s Acting for Film summer study program
  • Anijah Lezama of Brooklyn, NY, who will attend a summer study program at the French Academie of Ballet
  • Sydney Lopes of Smyrna, GA, who will attend the five-week Summer Performance Program at Berklee College of Music
  • Kelly Lukito of Flushing, NY, who will attend the Teens Summer program at Young Actors at Strasberg
  • Jhala Martin of Detroit, MI, who will attend the Rutgers Summer Acting Conservatory
  • Dina Perez of Chicago, IL, who will attend Interlochen’s Shakespeare Bootcamp
  • Haley Prince of Houston, TX, who will attend the Destination Broadway summer study program in New York City
  • Jennifer Reyes Fernandez of Louisville, KY, who will attend a summer study program at the Walden Theatre
  • Jada Rice of Chicago, IL, who will attend the iO Theatre Summer Intensive
  • Ariana Rodriguez of Bronx, NY, who will attend a summer study program at TADA! Youth Theater
  • Julia Schick of Kennesaw, GA; who will attend the five week Panorama program at The Performing Arts Project
  • Alex Serrano of Fresno, CA, who will attend the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts’ Summer Intensive
  • Amara Valerio of Yonkers, NY, who will attend Riverdale Children’s Theater Summer Lights Program
  • Leon Weir III of Grosse Pointe Woods, MI, who will attend the Rutgers Summer Acting Conservatory

Through these University and Training Scholarships, the Wing hopes to bridge the gap between talent and opportunity, and create a strong pipeline to the professional theatre for promising artists of all backgrounds. The student’s area of focus can be from any aspect of theatre from performance, to design, to writing, to stage management, and others.

These inaugural grants are part of the American Theatre Wing’s Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative, a major new national initiative which received $1.3 million in seed funding from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation to promote diversity, equity, and access to the arts. This project is an expansion of the work that the multi-Tony Award winning composer and producer has been doing to promote and fund arts education through his Foundation in the United Kingdom. The Initiative’s focus is to bridge the gap between talent and opportunity, creating a stronger pipeline to the professional theatre for promising artists of all backgrounds—fostering a future generation of theatre makers and patrons that reflects the diversity and dynamism of America as a whole.

The three components of the initiative are annual Classroom Resource Grants, Training Scholarships, for middle and high school students covering the costs to attend summer study and after school training programs and University Scholarships, providing financial support of $40,000 over 4 years for students to pursue theatre studies at the University level.

Those wishing to join the Wing in their efforts to provide these critical opportunities for young people can contact the American Theatre Wing’s Director of Development, Nicole Gardner.

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