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Coconut Grove Arts Festival awards $56K in scholarships to high school seniors

Written By Josie Gulliksen
June 23, 2022 at 4:00 PM

14 of the 16 area high school students honored at the 2022 Coconut Grove Arts Festival Scholarship Awards presentation. Courtesy CGAF

The Coconut Grove Arts Festival is a staple of the festival season, celebrating 58 years of hosting the waterfront event every President’s Day Weekend since 1964. For 26 of those years, the CGAF Board has been awarding scholarships to high school seniors, growing the amount each year. This year’s total scholarships equaled $56,000.

Immediate Past Chairman of the festival, Nathan Kurland, who was tasked with canceling the event in 2021, says, “that only made the hunger for the festival even stronger and as a result, we were able to put together the largest amount of scholarship money awarded.”

This year’s festival attendance reached 100,000, and the extra year to plan allowed the board to hire a production company to give the show a fresh approach. Swelling attendance meant more money raised, culminating in a record number of scholarships awarded.

Kurland’s fellow Board Member and past Chairperson Lilia Garcia is the force behind the festival’s scholarship program. Working closely with the Fund for Design and Art Education, a dedicated group of retired art teachers, CGAF received 500 applications for the scholarships.

“I was an art teacher and then an art administrator. I joined the Festival over 20 years ago because they expressed an interest in creating an additional component for the community and we came up with this scholarship idea,” said Garcia.

The 500 applicants were screened by the Fund for Design and Art Education committee, ultimately resulting in 16 winners. The high school seniors were awarded between $1,000 and $3,000, the amount dependent on which college they’re attending. The winners hail from Design and Architecture Senior High, New World School of the Arts, Miami Senior High School and Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts. They also awarded a scholarship to an additional student in honor of one of the festival’s board members who passed away.

“The ability to give out this many scholarships is both satisfying (for CGAF) and helpful to the community and Miami-Dade County in general,” said Kurland. “Helping these students continue their art education may mean they become a famous artist someday and fulfill their lifelong dream of a career in the arts.”

Members of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival team (l to r) CGAF Chair Elect Dave Hill Jr., Past Chair Nathan Kurland, Arts Director Camille Marchese, and Current Chair Michelle Barton King. Courtesy CGAF

Festival board members and staff hosted a reception at their Gallery in Coconut Grove, where student winners showed their works. Attendance included friends, family and art teachers.

“The feedback from the students was amazing. It was quite lovely to hear how appreciative they were of the art scholarships,” said Kurland.

Wanting to continue their work of helping up and coming artists, Garcia and the Board have another initiative in the works. They’re looking to develop an Emerging Young Artists Program for college age kids. It will include workshops and business skill development training for artists ages 18-29.

“We will provide mentoring and also give them a booth at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival,” said Garcia. “The remaining funds from the scholarships awarded will go toward establishing this program.”

The Young Artists Program is just another way the CGAF is promoting the festival and doing their part to help young up and coming artists start off their career. Additionally, they hope it will spur more community-based events, both visual and performing arts.

Learn about the Coconut Grove Arts Festival and Gallery and their year-round programming on their website cgaf.com

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