MIAMI – A high school student from Fleming Island is in Miami until Sunday to join 719 teenage artists from 44 U.S. states to participate in the 38th Annual National YoungArts Week.
Gannon Thomas, a student at Jacksonville’s Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, won the Miami trip after being named a 2019 National YoungArts Foundation Finalist in theatre, the organization’s highest honor.
“I’m extremely humbled and honored to have been given the opportunity to attend YoungArts Week in Miami and am so fortunate to work with well-renowned artists, industry leaders, and fellow finalists,” Thomas said.
Thomas was selected from thousands of applications and was recognized for his outstanding artistic achievements. YoungArts winners gain access to one of the most comprehensive programs for emerging artists in the United States, offering financial, professional and artistic development opportunities over the course of their careers.
“On behalf of YoungArts, I want to congratulate all of the 2019 winners for their achievements at such an early stage in their careers,” said Sarah Arison, YoungArts board chair. “We believe that every artist should be empowered to pursue a life in the arts, and we are excited to welcome our winners to the YoungArts family. This is just the beginning and we look forward to helping provide them with the valuable opportunities and support they will need to thrive throughout their artistic journeys.”
Thomas will receive a cash prize of up to $10,000 and will share his work with the public at renowned institutions such as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City and New World Center in Miami.
He will also receive mentoring from a cadre of professional, including Tony Award winner Joan Lader; Grammy Award-winning percussionist Joseph Gramley; Academy Award-winning film editor Doug Blush; Obie Award-winning theater artists Steven Sapp and Mildred Ruiz; award-winning journalist, author and provocative cultural critic Joan Morgan; poet John Murillo; opera singers Daniela Mack and Alek Shrader; US Artist Fellow and Princess Grace award-winning choreographer Rosie Herrera; bestselling author Kristen Simmons; and award-winning photographer Lori Hepner, among many others.
Selected through a blind adjudication process conducted by an independent panel of highly accomplished artists, the 2019 winners represent the Top 10 percent of applications. Of this year’s 710 winners, some have been awarded for excellence in multiple disciplines at various levels. Altogether, 725 awards have been attributed: 163 have been named finalists, the organization’s highest honor; 268 are Honorable Mentions and 294 are Merit winners. As a finalist, Thomas will have the opportunity to participate in the 38th annual National YoungArts Week in Miami January 6-13. The organization’s signature program, National YoungArts Week aims to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration and community while offering finalists the guidance needed to prepare for the next stage of their artistic development. During the free, weeklong intensive, artists across 10 disciplines participate in master classes and workshops with internationally recognized leaders in their fields, such as Ansin Stewart Master Teacher Gavin Creel and Florence Stern Memorial Master Teacher Wendy Whelan. Throughout the week, Thomas’ work will be further adjudicated to determine additional award levels.
Each evening during National YoungArts Week, audiences can experience the work of these artists through performances in voice, jazz, theater, dance and classical music, as well as film screenings at New World Center, writers’ readings in the YoungArts Jewel Box, and a visual arts, photography and design exhibition curated by Rosie Gordon-Wallace of Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator in the YoungArts Gallery.
Thomas is also eligible for nomination to the White House-appointed Commission on Presidential Scholars. As the sole nominating agency, YoungArts selects 60 finalists each year, 20 of whom are invited to become U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, one of the highest honors for a graduating high school senior.