Santa Monica architect Johannes Van Tilburg, FAIA , principal at Van Tilburg, Banvard, and Soderbergh, is a member of the Fraternity of Friends, a group of executives who contribute to the Music Center. Van Tilburg and fellow members of the Fraternity have adopted The Spotlight program, a unique education program for high school-age performing and visual artists at all levels of study, as their main support project. Fraternity members like Van Tilburg play a leadership role in meeting the fundraising goal for Spotlight, which is well over $1 million per year. Van Tilburg said the Spotlight Program is “unique and is not as well known by the public and as other heavily promoted programs.”
This year, the Music Center Spotlight Awards Program will celebrate its 20th year. Spotlight’s mission is to provide a supportive environment in which students can develop the skills needed to pursue their artistic goals. The program’s emphasis is on self-esteem, preparation, and perseverance. Distinctive learning opportunities are offered at every level. All Spotlight participants gain the opportunity to demonstrate their artistic ability before a panel of experts and receive feedback. Semi-finalists receive instruction from well-known artists in Master Classes. Finalists receive cash scholarships, and will perform and exhibit their artwork at the Spotlight Gala in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Saturday, April 26. Approximately 2,000 high school students will receive complimentary tickets to attend the event.
First introduced in 1988, the Spotlight performing arts competition became an annual spring tradition in 1990. Southern California high school students are eligible to participate in six Spotlight performing arts categories – classical instrumental, jazz instrumental, classical voice, non-classical voice, ballet, and non-classical dance.
In 2007, Spotlight applications set new participation records. In the performing arts, applications increased by 17 percent over the 2006 total and the visual arts applications grew by 22 percent. The 2007 Spotlight Awards gala performance was broadcast on KCET.
Many Spotlight alumni have gone on to distinguished professional careers in the arts. Matthew Rushing, non-classical dance winner in 1991, became a Principal Dancer of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Danielle de Niese, who competed in the classical voice category in 1995, returned to the Music Center in 2002 to perform with the Los Angeles Opera. Information about Spotlight alumni and their accomplishments is online at musiccenter.org/education/ spot/alumni.html.
The Spotlight program does not focus primarily on winners, rather it emphasizes the process of developing skills that lead to success in the arts as well as in other careers – tenacity, dedication, poise, self-discipline, and cooperation.
Each year, the Music Center begins Spotlight outreach in August by distributing applications to every public, private, and parochial high school in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Diego counties. The Center also sends applications to students, private music teachers, dance schools, art schools, and photography studios. Applications can also be downloaded from the Music Center website (music center.org). This year’s deadline for applications is October 9 for performing arts and December 1 for visual arts.
Participation in Spotlight is open to all high school students in seven Southern California counties free-of-charge. Spotlight’s 2008 Spotlight Gala Dinner covers only a projected $250,000 out of the $1,156,000 2007-08 budget. Private contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations have to cover the $906,000 difference.
To learn more about the Spotlight Program, contact the Music Center at 213.972.3316.