Diana Wortham Theatre celebrates Asheville-area winners of 2017 Emerging Artists Scholarships May 5

From the Diana Wortham Theatre:


The Diana Wortham Theatre in downtown Asheville, North Carolina announces the 2017 Y.E.S. (Youth Education Scholarship) Emerging Artists Fund student scholarship winners: Gennie Basset (Owen High School) for dance; Devin Jones (SILSA) for spoken word poetry; Felisha McCurry (Erwin High School) for vocal performance; and Cameron Robinson (SILSA) for musical theatre.

E.A.F. scholarship winner Gennie Basset. Photo courtesy of Diana Wortham Theatre
E.A.F. scholarship winner Gennie Basset. Photo courtesy of Diana Wortham Theatre

Established in 2016, the Emerging Artists Fund is a program to support young performers by providing scholarships for graduating Buncombe County high school seniors pursuing a career in the performing arts. The applicants submitted an application with accompanying essay, letter of recommendation from a teacher, instructor or mentor, and a video audition. The four winners are each awarded a $1,000 scholarship to the school of their choice, and their talents will be showcased during a special concert on May 5 featuring Free Planet Radio at the Diana Wortham Theatre.

We were blown away by the talent and passion exhibited by all of the students who applied for the scholarship,” says Rae Geoffrey, Associate Director of Diana Wortham Theatre. “It was difficult to choose from these amazing young people. Gennie, Devin, Felisha and Cameron are wonderful representations of the next generation who will change the future of performing arts. We couldn’t be more excited to help them along their path and to see where the future takes them.”

Basset is a senior at Owen High School and hopes to study dance and physical therapy after graduating. “In high school, dance became my safety net…When I am dancing I can truly be in the moment and forget about all the expectations which are so hard to get away from,” Basset says.

E.A.F. scholarship winner Devin Jones. Photo courtesy of Diana Wortham Theatre
E.A.F. scholarship winner Devin Jones. Photo courtesy of Diana Wortham Theatre

Jones is a senior at the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville (SILSA). He won a scholarship with his spoken word poetry; he aspires to publish a book of poetry and continue to perform. “I love this art form because I have seen what wonders it can work,” says Jones.

McCurry is a senior at Erwin High School and was rewarded for her vocal performance. She plans to pursue a music education degree. “I’m here to change the world one person at a time,” saays McCurry. “There are so many kids out there who love music and are too afraid to do it, and so many kids out there who have no idea what kind of effect music can truly have on them.”

E.A.F. scholarship winner Felisha McCurry. Photo courtesy of Diana Wortham Theatre
E.A.F. scholarship winner Felisha McCurry. Photo courtesy of Diana Wortham Theatre

Robinson is a senior at SILSA and plans to pursue a theatre career. “I know how it feels to sit in the audience and let the power of a play wash over me and teach me important lessons,” says Robinson. “I also know how it feels to be on a stage helping audience members see the truth for the first time.”

This year’s scholarship winners will be showcased at the May 5 event with Free Planet Radio. The evening benefits local children by raising funds for Diana Wortham Theatre’s Y.E.S. Fund, which makes it possible for underserved students to attend Diana Wortham Theatre school programming.

The Emerging Artists Fund is an outgrowth of the Y.E.S. Fund. Scholarships, made possible by private donors, cover the cost of admission and are available to students on a free or reduced lunch program. The Y.E.S. program expanded in 2015 to cover artist workshops in local schools and the Emerging Artists Fund. Donations to the Y.E.S. Fund and its programs are accepted any time; more information at www.dwtheatre.com/Y-E-S-Fund.

Y.E.S. Scholarship winner Cameron Robinson. Photo courtesy of Diana Wortham Theatre
E.A.F. scholarship winner Cameron Robinson. Photo courtesy of Diana Wortham Theatre

About Free Planet Radio: For more than a decade, Free Planet Radio has been bringing its innovative world-jazz-classical music blend to festivals, concert stages, and classrooms — and now to Diana Wortham Theatre’s stage. Expertly weaving jazz-style improv with the subtleties of Western classical music and Middle Eastern, Indian, and North African rhythms and melodies, Free Planet Radio features two-time Grammy winner Eliot Wadopian on electric and string basses, leaping effortlessly between rhythm and melody; River Guerguerian on an extensive array of global percussion instruments including Middle Eastern frame drums and doumbek, Latin American cajon, and Western drum set; and Chris Rosser on a variety of Indian and Turkish stringed instruments including the 17-stringed Indian dotar, Turkish cumbus oud, guitar, piano, and melodica. The band will work with the Y.E.S. Emerging Artist award winners to integrate and showcase the students and their talent into the May 5 performance.

The 9th annual Y.E.S. Fund Raffle is May 5 & 6 in the lobby of Diana Wortham Theatre. Exciting items like event tickets, jewelry and art, chic apparel, and more may be won while raffle ticket sales support children through DWT’s Y.E.S. Fund. The public is encouraged to purchase raffle tickets either at the box office on these dates between 10am-4pm, or during the Free Planet Radio performance on May 5, or the Susan Werner performance on May 6. Attendance at these performances is not required to participate in the raffle, nor do winners have to be present to win. Different raffle items each day. $5 per ticket, 5 tickets for $20. More information and a full listing of raffle items can be found at www.dwtheatre.com/YES-raffle.

Contact/Info: For more information on the Y.E.S. Emerging Artists Fund, visit www.dwtheatre.com/emerging-artists-fund or call the theatre at (828) 257-4530.

About Max Hunt
Max Hunt grew up in South (New) Jersey and graduated from Warren Wilson College in 2011. History nerd; art geek; connoisseur of swimming holes, hot peppers, and plaid clothing. Follow me @J_MaxHunt

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