High school students at any level who have exceptional talent in singing, dancing, or acting are encouraged to apply for the 2017 Joci Awards Performing Arts Scholarship Program. Presented by the Las Casas Foundation, the program awards more than $100,000 in scholarships each year.

Twenty-five finalists will perform in a showcase before a panel of nationally recognized judges and could be awarded anywhere between $3,000 and $16,000 in funds at the Empire Theatre on May 21, 2017.

The scholarship program is the largest scholarship funding source for the performing arts in the United States. It also serves as a regional award program for the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City, which gives two San Antonio students the opportunity to train under top industry professionals to compete for additional funds. Students can participate in five categories: Vocal, Acting, Dance, Best Lead Actress in a Musical, and Best Lead Actor in a Musical.

In a Wednesday morning interview with the Rivard Report, Las Casas Foundation Operations and Communications Manager Ana Flores said that the program helps students locally and regionally go on to scholastic and career excellence.

“A year ago, the Phantom of the Opera came to the Majestic as part of the national tour. One of the leads in that show was Storm Lineberger, a San Antonio native and past winner,” Flores said. “We did some interviews with him and took him to City Council (to promote the program).”

She said that many past recipients have gone on to do similar projects, and that many of them have expanded to industries outside of the performing arts. The money mainly helps kids decide where they want to go to school.

“We want anyone who has any interest in the performing arts to apply,” she explained. “When someone applies to these scholarships, they have access to the program’s workshops and master classes regardless. So we offer something for everyone.”

The deadline for students in grades 9-12 to apply is Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. To learn more about the Joci Awards and to submit an application, click here.

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James McCandless

Former intern James McCandless is a recent St. Mary's University graduate. He has worked with the San Antonio Current and Texas Public Radio.