For more than 90 years, The Scholastic Art & Writing Award program has sought to encourage, foster, and reward creativity in our nation’s classrooms and to confer recognition on emerging talent. Our region, which covers 18 counties, has participated for decades, beginning in the Tea Room of the former Robertson’s Department Store in downtown South Bend. L.S. Ayres hosted the exhibition until the South Bend Museum of Art became involved.
The South Bend Museum of Art is now the affiliate for the Scholastic Art Awards’ Northwest Indiana and Southwest Lower Michigan Region. This region includes the following counties: INDIANA counties of Benton, Cass, Elkhart, Fulton, Jasper, Kosciusko, Lake, LaPorte, Marshall, Newton, Porter, Pulaski, St. Joseph, Stark, White; and MICHIGAN counties of Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph.
The Scholastic Art Awards represents the most comprehensive national annual assessment of the creative spirit among American teens. Three core values have not changed since The Awards inception: freedom of expression, a blind adjudication process, and work criteria based on originality, technical proficiency, and emergence of personal voice. Students in seventh through twelfth grade submit digital images of their work, which is juried by more than 50 jurors solicited from the local arts and education community. A process of “blind adjudication” is used, whereby judging is determined on a merit basis with only the art object under review, without any knowledge as to student identity (gender, race, background, etc.). Jurors are instructed to select artwork that excels in 1) Originality, 2) Technical Skill, and 3) Emergence of a personal vision or voice.
The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, identifies teenagers with exceptional artistic and literary talent and brings their remarkable work to a national audience through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Founded in 1923, the Awards program is the longest-running, most prestigious program of its kind, having fostered the creativity and talent of millions of students through recognition, exhibitions and publications. Over the past five years, students have submitted 920,000 works of art and writing) and over $40 million has been made available in scholarships and awards to top winning participants. The Alliance partners with 116 regional affiliates across the country to bring the program to local communities, and works with a network of more than 60 colleges and universities to increase scholarship and award opportunities. With the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Alliance is a founding partner of the National Student Poets Program, the country’s highest honor for youth poets, which selects five students exclusively from current Scholastic Art & Writing Award national poetry winners. More information about the Alliance and its programs can be found at www.artandwriting.org.
Regional awards are given in several categories:
• Gold Key: The highest level of achievement on the regional level.
Approximately 5 – 7% of all regional submissions are recognized with Gold Key Awards and all are considered for national-level recognition.
• Silver Key: Approximately 7 – 10% of all regional submissions are recognized with Silver Key Awards.
• Honorable Mention: This Award recognizes students with artistic potential. Approximately 10 – 15% of all regional submissions receive Honorable Mention Awards.
• American Vision & Voice Nominees: Five works are selected out of all Gold Key works (across categories) as the “Best of Show” for each region.
Digital images of all of our GOLD KEY Awards are sent on to National Adjudication in New York City. Award recipients at the national level are invited to participate in the Awards Ceremony held in New York City at Carnegie Hall, have their work shown in noted galleries, attend workshops, be considered for scholarships, and have their names included in the New York Times article covering the Scholastic Art Awards.
The SAA competition has strong positive impact in our community, showcasing the vast talent in our region, not only the talent of the students, but of the teachers and mentors who work with them to assure their excellence. Many young artists who have gone on to highly productive careers in the arts have received their first encouragement and recognition through the SAA program, which bolstered their confidence to pursue their dreams.
SAA is also the most heavily attended exhibition in the SBMA annual schedule (about 5000 visitors annually) and is intrinsically connected to our mission of supporting arts education for youth. There is not a single arts program for high school and middle school students which has the broad reach or lifelong educational impact of the Scholastic Art Awards and SBMA is committed to working with the local SAA board to keep it alive and vibrant in our region.
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