Thursday, October 27, 2011

Young Masters Grant supports “rising stars of Texas”

Valerie Cowan

Since 2002, the Young Masters Grant Program has generously given funds to students from 8th to 11th grades. This year’s application deadline is quickly approaching; applications and audiovisual materials must be postmarked by November 15.

The Young Masters Grant Program is created and funded through the Texas Cultural Trust in order to help young Texas artists pursue opportunities that otherwise might not be possible for them. The students supported by the grant program include musicians, actors, writers, dancers, visual artists, media artists and more.

Cassandra Scholte Jensen, Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) program administrator, refers to these gifted students as the “rising stars of Texas.”

Recipients of the grant are awarded the title of Young Master and receive $2,500 per year for up to two years. In order to meet eligibility requirements, 8th through 11th grade students must receive passing grades in all academic areas, have legal U.S. and Texas resident status, and actively participate in an art program. Possible art programs may include a summer institute, a school-based program, a specialized course of study, or private lessons from a qualified instructor.

Jensen said the number of applications received “varies from year to year,” and the number of awards given depends on the funds available. The smallest class of grant recipients was 11, and the largest was 26.

Christopher Vo, now a professional dancer under the Lar Lubovitch Company, received the Young Masters Grant in 2002. Coming from a low-income family, Vo applied for the grant in order to attend a summer dance program at The Juilliard School. Without the support of the grant program, this opportunity would have passed him by. Juilliard awarded Vo a full scholarship to attend the program again the following summer, and Vo later graduated from Juilliard with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Jensen said she received a phone call recently from the father of another 2002 grant recipient. Antonio Cisneros now works for the film industry, and his father called to express his gratitude for the opportunity the grant provided his son. After receiving the grant in high school, Cisneros went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in Cinematography and Documentary Production from New York University Tisch School of the Arts Film and Television.

For more information on the Young Masters Grant Program and how to apply, visit the TCA website.

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