Exciting 2019-2020 YoungArts season announced

Written By Josie Gulliksen
September 23, 2019 at 8:08 PM

With a view of the striking Miami cityscape as their backdrop, The National YoungArts Foundation’s leaders recently announced the 2019-2020 season.

Kicking off the morning was Dejha Carrington, vice president of External Relations and Communications saying, “YoungArts provides a lifetime of creative and professional development opportunities for artists.” She then introduced Lisa Leone, Vice President of Artistic Programs.

Leone, who curated the recently closed exhibit “can we be as brave?” said YoungArts received roughly 8,000 applications from 15- to 18-year-old high schoolers in 10 different disciplines for the national competition. Those disciplines are – Classical Music, Design Arts, Dance, Film, Jazz, Photography, Theater, Voice, Visual Arts and Writing. They all want to attend National YoungArts Week in Miami.

“It’s very exciting to sit in the room where applications are reviewed. In 2018, we had 15 artists who won in two different disciplines,” Leone said.

Reviewing applications for 2020 will be a 33-member national selection panel (three to four are assigned to a specific discipline), tasked with choosing approximately 700 winners including 170 Finalists to attend National YoungArts Week in Miami January 5-12, 2020. Aside from the Finalists, other applicants are awarded Honorable Mention and Merit awards. Many of the winners also participate in regional programs in Los Angeles and New York, and in Miami February 25-March 1, 2020, where they take master classes with accomplished artists and share their art with public audiences at performances and exhibitions.

An exciting announcement for YoungArts winners in Visual Arts is knowing that Pérez Art Museum Miami curator Maritza Lacayo will curate the National YoungArts Week exhibition, and renowned Haitian-born American painter Edouard Duval-Carrié will curate their exhibition for YoungArts Miami.

They paid out $1.9 million to artists in 2019 which is “truly a lifetime of support we’re providing,” Leone said.

Rebekah Lanae Lengel, senior director of Artistic Programs and herself a YoungArts alumna in Writing, recalled her YoungArts experiences as a winner and working with the new generations becoming part of the community every year.

“It’s a week full of artistic discovery, a moment when you find people who think like you. You realize that pursuing a career in the arts is really possible,” she said. “The hope of our programming is also that the Miami brain trust and deep bed of artists will stay in Miami.”

She emphasized the importance of welcoming the community to experience their programs and making them accessible to all.

Wanting to support artists beyond just their programming, they have now developed the YoungArts Microgrants Program, “where we are able to support artists in real ways,” said Lauren Snelling, senior director of Alumni Programming.

“Already this year we’ve been able to help artists with airline tickets, re-doing floors for performances and other everyday needs for continuing their craft,” she said.

Yusha-Marie Sorzano in the studio. Photo courtesy of YoungArts

Alumni who return as master teachers, artists-in-residence, or in other capacities, are provided time and space on the YoungArts Campus, both in the Jewel Box and at Ted’s. Resident dancer Yusha-Marie Sorzano, a 2000 YoungArts winner in Dance, is currently developing her piece “THREAT” and the public can experience her work in progress at a special performance in the Jewel Box on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. The plan is to expand the “YoungArts at Ted’s” intimate performance series to New York and Los Angeles.

Opening the 2019-2020 exhibition schedule will be “Within Interdependence,” an alumni exhibition curated by Deana Haggag showcasing the work of 20 artists whose pieces focus on each artist’s connection to their bodies in a rapidly changing ecological, metaphysical and social world. The show opens Oct. 2 and runs through Dec. 13.

Unique to YoungArts is the life-long support it provides to their alumni “creating an eco-system that is very long and ongoing,” said Lanae Lengel.

Applicants too must continue to try year in and year out as they hone their craft and know that it is a process requiring persistence.

“Ben Ross, lead actor in the hit play “Dear Evan Hansen” applied and did not get in the first time. He first won a Merit award, then Honorable Mention and on his third try became a Finalist,” said Lisa Leone.

All the while during those years applying “our panelists provide honest and critical feedback to the applicants,” said Carrington, an invaluable service in their quest to win a spot among the Finalists.

YoungArts continuously works on outreach strategies to spread the word about the YoungArts opportunity by connecting with schools and teachers, and fellow cultural organizations and art programs around the country. Wanting to expand the program year by year they add three different target cities, also specifically considering rural areas where artists and teachers may be unaware of these opportunities.

Summing it up best, and echoing Dejha Carrington’s words was Lee Pivnik, a 2014 YoungArts winner in Visual Arts whose installation “Dust My Eyes with Diatomaceous Earth” is currently on view at Parc Space at Bay Parc Apartments.

“If YoungArts has taught me one thing, it’s the importance of maintaining relationships that yield mutual support and encouragement throughout your life and career,” he said. “It’s a skill they’ve mastered as an organization.”

A comprehensive list of all YoungArts programming for 2019-2020 can be viewed on their website

Photo at top: 2019 Miami YoungArts Dance, Theater and Voice performance with 2019 Winner in Voice Deshun Walker. Photo by Jason Koerner. is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing-arts news. Sign up for our newsletter and never miss a story.


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