Why should you finish your application for YoungArts?
This is the question that stands in the way of most young artists applying and submitting materials to the YoungArts program. It’s a barrier that stands in the way of a lot of artists in many of their endeavors. Whether it’s an audition at a local theatre, submitting work to be displayed in a gallery, deciding which piece to submit for publishing or shopping around a reel to get to direct a film.
Doubt, I think, is the answer.
When I was in junior high I sang in choir. Toward the end of my 8th grade year we visited the local Creative and Performing Arts High School and spend time with their choir and director, Dr. Lulah Hedgeman. Once there we got a private performance from the concert choir in the choral room. It was inspirational and intimidating all at the same time. My junior-high heart was in awe and I wanted so badly to be a part of it.
But to be a part of the program, you had to audition. I had never gone through any type of audition before and was extremely nervous. I was afraid of rejection and failing. I gathered up all the courage I could and made arrangements to go without letting anyone know except for my grandmother, who took me to the audition. If I didn’t get in, I didn’t want anyone to know that I had failed.
Dr. Hedgeman was a force to be reckoned with. She exuded professionalism and excellence. When it was my turn to sing, I did the best I could. After the audition she paused a few moments, combed through her bangs with her nails, looked over and said, “Well, we’re gonna take you. And I’m gonna put you in our Chamber Choir.”
I had no idea what a Chamber Choir was, but I quickly learned it was the advanced choir generally reserved for sophomore and senior students that had decided to take their craft seriously. I was one of two rising freshman that placed in the chamber group.
This was the seed planted that began to erase my doubt. I learned to think positively and grew as an artist every day during my time with Dr. Hedgeman. But the first lesson about doubt was the most important. “There’s a difference between conceit and confidence,” Dr. Hedgeman would say. Learning to be confident is a scary path each artist must take.
Later on I auditioned for the school musical, “Into the Woods,” as a junior and was cast in the lead role over seniors. I went on to audition for the selective University of Miami Theatre Conservatory and was accepted. Both things I would have never done without removing doubt from my mind.
Applying to a program like YoungArts has the potential to give you experiences you will never forget. I didn’t know about YoungArts when I was in school, and though I don’t know if I would have placed, I know I would have tried and been proud of the fact that I gave it my all.
As artists that is what we do. We work on our craft and we try every day to do the best job we can. Most of the time, we don’t succeed. That’s the nature of working in the arts. There is always someone else out there, no matter how good we are, that is just a little bit better than us. But we’ll never know unless we try. Learning someone is better than you is a hard lesson that makes an artist strive to be the best. It’s that burning in us that creates success.
So why should you apply to YoungArts and submit your materials for adjudication?
The answer is simple: you never know!
Each year YoungArts works tirelessly to compile a panel of artists and educators that represents the best in the country to find the winners of the YoungArts program. This panel is a changing group of people. One year has nothing to do with the next. This is yet another reason you never know what is possible until you submit your audition.
This could be your year! Wouldn’t you like to find out? Remove the doubt! For better or worse, it will be something you did as an artist that can only make you stronger.
Blog By: Joseph M. NeSmith / YoungArts Manager of Regional Programs.