COVID-19 fails to close curtain on Okanagan arts bursaries

Coldstream and Vernon students benefit from Performing Arts Centre support

Despite many events on hold, include the 19th Annual Birthday Bash celebration, the Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre Society chose to proceed with its annual Bursary Program.

The three recipients of $1,000 bursaries are Rachel Glessing of Coldstream; and Shaughnessy O’Brien and Libby Wyse, both of Vernon. Families of each year’s recipients are traditionally invited and publicly recognized as part of pre-show ceremonies at the centre’s Birthday Bash each Fall which officially launches the Society’s annual SPOTLIGHT Season.

Each year, the society makes available bursaries to Vernon and area Grade 12 students entering, or currently enrolled in post-secondary performing arts or performing arts management programs, or a recognized apprenticeship program in the Performing Arts. Under the program’s guidelines, students are eligible to receive a maximum of two society bursaries over their post-secondary career.

Bursaries are typically made possible from the generous donations by performing arts centre patrons, tips collected at the coat check and the bar and concession; also specified, tax deductible donations and memorial gifts by donors and sponsors throughout the year.

“Over this year, with the return of full public performances delayed, we are planning special initiatives to help replenish our Bursary Fund in time for 2021 bursaries,” VDPAC executive director Jim Harding said.

The Board of Directors’ Bursary Program Committee set 2020 bursaries at $1,000 each due to the continuing high cost of post-secondary programs, despite limitations from the pandemic.

“This year, with most post-secondary programs offering hybrids of online and limited in-class learning, we invited our applicants to describe how their institutions would be delivering their programs, especially for the Performing Arts,” says Harding. “Our Committee noted the high calibre of applications and under these challenging circumstances, how dedicated and willing to persevere these students are.”

Glessing, a graduate of Kalamalka Secondary, is a third year student at the University of Calgary having completed two years in a Bachelor of Arts (music) transferred to a Bachelor of Music in Fall 2020 and combined with her Bachelor of Science (biology). Glessing is majoring in Integrated Studies (composition, counterpoint, conducting, band instruction & musical history) with her main instrument being trombone, but also trained in piano and violin. With UofC’s emphasis on inter-disciplinary appreciation of all Performing Arts, Rachel looks forward to learning more about Theatre, Dance and other art forms through coursework and live performance. She has received numerous music awards, graduate scholarships and bursaries in recognition of her academic and artistic achievements.

O’Brien, a graduate of W.L. Seaton Secondary and a second time recipient of a VDPAC bursary, is now in her third year in Bachelor of Fine Arts (drama) in a 12-14 member acting conservatory at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alta. This program consists of 35 hours of in-class rehearsal per week including Movement, Dance, Voice and Speech, Singing, Clown, Stage Combat, Technical Production and multiple Acting units. Upon graduating in 2022, Shaughnessy plans to audition for professional theatre companies across Canada to pursue a career in live theatre, as well as acting for film and television.

Wyse (Libby) is enrolled in her second year in the Bachelor of Music (violin performance) program at the University of Victoria. Wyse has achieved her Grade 10 level in piano and violin from the Royal Conservatory of Music; worked as a violin teacher and practice coach with the Vernon Community Music School; and played as a solo and chamber musician with Okanagan Symphony Youth Orchestra and has received numerous top awards at music festivals throughout the Thompson-Okanagan and provincial Performing Arts BC competitions, including several music scholarships. Her goal is to pursue post-graduate training in violin and a career in both teaching and performing in large and small ensembles.

“We have a very accomplished local community of theatre, dance and music school programs and private academies here, which speaks to how important the performing arts are to our emerging young artists,“ Harding said. “We want to continue to encourage them with our Bursary Program to help explore and develop careers. Live performance will eventually return, so we will continue to do what we can to help. We will certainly need this coming year and the continued generosity of our supporters to help re-build our Bursary Fund resources for 2021.”

Guidelines for VDPAC’s Performing Arts Bursary Program are available on the Society’s website at vdpac.ca and application details will be announced in the Spring of 2021.

For more information or to donate to the Bursary Program, contact the arts centre at 250-542-9355 or by email theatre@ticketseller.ca.

READ MORE: Andrew Allen concert kicks off Vernon stage’s return to live shows amid COVID-19

READ MORE: Sound effects at play for Caravan’s Halloween event


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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