Last year, President Joe Biden officially declared Juneteenth to be a federal holiday, but this special day has been a Texas tradition for much longer. 157 years to be exact. You probably learned about it in your 4th and 7th grade Texas history classes, but for you Texas transplants, here’s the story:

Although President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, word that all enslaved people were free in the eyes of the law didn’t reach Texas until June 19, 1865. Things didn’t magically get better when Major General Gordon Granger read the Proclamation in Galveston, TX that day, and we’ve still got work to do, but it’s a day to celebrate the ability to recognize a wrong and work to make it right.

Our pals at H-E-B are supporting Juneteenth celebrations all throughout the Lone Star State as part of their shared responsibility and commitment to create lasting change.

Ross Scott, founding member of H-E-B’s first diversity council and a store director with 31 years of service, understands the importance of community connection. His favorite H-E-B community-supported event is Juneteenth, and he leads the region’s partners each year at the MLK Jr. Parade and Festival.

“It’s an enjoyable time parading through the community and seeing the people that shop at my store,” he said, adding that he appreciates H-E-B’s culture, family atmosphere, great opportunities for advancement, “giving back” commitment to community and fostering of a workplace where everyone belongs. 

H-E-B and their employees support many Juneteenth events across Texas, including activities in Austin, Pflugerville, Kyle, La Grange, and beyond. Check out their Event Calendar and join in the celebrations! We’ve got our eye on Austin’s Juneteenth Parade. Follow its historic route on Saturday, June 18th, starting at 10am, and spend the day at the Park Festival with KUTX & the Greater East Austin Youth Association.

This year (and all years), let’s take this time to CARE – celebrate, advocate, reflect, and educate – about Juneteenth, and honor the freedom of Black Americans and the (often unacknowledged) contributions they have made to American culture. In the words of Former President Barak Obama, “Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible—and there is still so much work to do.”

KEEP IN TOUCH

At the Long Center, we’ve always got a new partnership or something cool we know you’ll want to check out! Find and follow us @longcenter on your social media platform of choice, and we’ll see you real soon.

Summer is here and that had us thinking… how can we help Austinites get back out there? So we turned to our resident curiosity monger, Tori Johnson, who just happens to be our LC Marketing Coordinator! In this Mid-Week Intermission, Tori gives us a break from it all with some trail tips and her favorite way to cut loose. And if you join us for a Drop-In, you may even see her on-the-job. Enjoy!

Howdy!

I’m Tori.

Photos by Katie Murray Balling

I’m the Marketing Coordinator here at the Long Center, which means I run our social channels, make sure things get paid on time (you’re welcome, vendors!), write blogs, coordinate media visits, and generally keep the wheels on in the Marketing Department.  I’ve been here almost a full year, which sometimes feels like 10 years and sometimes feels like 30 seconds.

Before I joined Team LC, I worked at several dance companies here in Austin and also in Utah, where I went to college and studied ballet. If you thought it was hard to figure out what to do with a B.A. in English, imagine a B.F.A. in Ballet. Just kidding! Ballet was my life for 20 years, and it taught me creativity, work ethic, collaboration, critical thinking, and more… all skills I use every day! There’s no feeling quite like moving your body and allowing the music (or silence!) to take you on a journey.

Speaking of journeys, one of my favorite ways to pass time (or use up my PTO 😁) is hiking. I fell in love with hiking while living in Utah, and while the Hill Country isn’t exactly the same as the Rockies, rolling hills of bluebonnets and the serpentine curves of the Pedernales make my heart beat fast in a way the mountains never will. 

Here’s me and my floof at Reimers Ranch in Dripping Springs 👉

When I’m not hiking or working, I’m usually reading a book – currently on my Kindle is Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty – or hanging out with my doggo, Apache, or doing yoga. 

I’ve been practicing yoga for about 10 years now, and even have my teaching certification with an advanced certification in process. I teach every Wednesday for a local org called The Phoenix, an active community for folks in recovery. If you’re sober or trying to be, come flow with me! I mean, look at that view 😍

Well, that’s my story! Next time you’re at The Drop-In, feel free to flag me down and say hello and ask me to show you pictures of Apache. I’ll be the one walking around taking pictures of things on my phone 😉

KEEP IN TOUCH

At the Long Center, we’ve always got a new partnership or something cool we know you’ll want to check out! Find and follow us @longcenter on your social media platform of choice, and we’ll see you real soon.

This one goes out to the other event venues out there. We see you! As we ramp back up to a full schedule, we’re over the moon to have folks from Austin and beyond back in our spaces. But from ticketing to advertising to client satisfaction to operations, there’s more on our plates right now than we’re used to. And that’s causing A LOT of stress 😬 

Dr. Tio Bustillo from Baylor Scott & White Health stopped by the LC to talk to us about how to manage stress and anxiety, and what he had to say was too good to keep to ourselves.

The Thinking Process

Our minds are built to worry to keep us safe from danger, but we don’t live in the same environment our early human ancestors did. They might have worried about if a hippo was going to eat them, while we worry about if traffic on Mopac is going to be terrible or just regular-bad. Those are very different scenarios, but our minds don’t know that. It may sound strange, but worrying releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel pleasure. So, the more we worry, the more dopamine dumps into our brains, making our brains feel good, which makes us inclined to worry even more. But all the while, we’re miserable and stressed out. 

Thoughts are just droppings made by our brains. We get to choose if we pick up the thoughts or not. Next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed by your thoughts, try one of the exercises below 👇 

Take a Breath

Our breath is the only thing that truly happens in the present moment. When your mind starts to reach a little too far into the what ifs of the future, try this breathing exercise to bring you back to the now. 

Decide if you want your palms open to receive, palms down to ground, or palm on palm with thumbs touching to reflect.

Photos courtesy of  Tint Yoga, Yoga Journal, & Mindfulness Box
  1. Soften your gaze or close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose for one… two… three… four. Notice the sensation of air filling your lungs.
  2. Hold your breath here for one… two… three… four. (Are you scrunching up your face? What does it feel like if you let that facial tension go?) 
  3. Slowly exhale for one… two… three… four. 
  4. And hold again for one… two… three… four. 

This is called box breathing, or sama vritti pranayama in Sanskrit. Our favorite part of box breathing is that it can be done anywhere.  

Find the Present
  1. Place your palm in your lap or in front of you – just somewhere you can see it.  
  2. Place the pointer finger of your opposite hand on the outside of your thumb. 
  3. Take a nice, slow breath in and trace your finger up the side of your thumb. 
  4. Slowly breathe out and trace your finger down the inside of your thumb. 
  5. Inhale and trace up your pointer finger. 
  6. Exhale and trace down your pointer finger.  
  7. Repeat this with each finger, as many times as you like. 
Graphic courtesy of The Calming Corner
Come to Your Senses

Becoming aware of the environment around you is a great way to take your mind off your stress and recalibrate. Ask yourself: 

  • What things do I see? 
  • What things do I hear? Do I hear different things if I close my eyes? 
  • What things do I smell? 
  • What tastes are in my mouth? 
  • What is near me that I could touch? If you choose to reach out and touch something, what does it feel like? 

So next time you’re worrying about Mopac traffic or that one client sends you yet another email, check in with one of the practices above 👆 And remember: anxiety isn’t really a feeling, but rather a thinking process. It’s a reminder to be aware, not beware. YOU get to choose what thoughts you keep and what you discard.

Special thanks to our partners over at Baylor Scott & White Health for helping us learn about stress and anxiety. For more wellness tips, give ‘em a follow on your social media platform of choice. 

April 14th marked the first time the Heller Awards for Young Artists was held LIVE and in person in three years. And boy was it great to be back! There’s an itch in all of us that can only be scratched by live performance. 

And the lucky winners are… (drumroll please… 🥁)

Creative Awards
Best Choreography

Cedar Ridge High School, Footloose

Best Costume Design

Rouse High School, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Best Ensemble

East View High School, A Chorus Line

Best Direction

San Marcos High School, Rent

Best Musical Direction

Rouse High School, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Best Lighting Design

Tom Glenn High School, SpongeBob SquarePants

Best Scenic Design

Hendrickson High School, Once on This Island

Best Orchestra

Leander High School, Amélie

Best Technical Execution

McCallum Fine Arts Academy, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Best Production

Rouse High School, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Acting Awards
Best Lead | Female

Savannah Chavarria, McCallum Fine Arts Academy, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Best Lead | Male

JP Lopez, Rouse High School, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Best Supporting | Male

Sam Hill as Tonton, Hendrickson High School, Once on This Island

Best Supporting | Female

Ava Van Bevern as Vi Moore, Cedar Ridge High School, Footloose

Best Featured | Individual

Allie Meredith, Jack C. Hays High School, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Best Featured | Ensemble

Hannah Zuniga, Lehman High School, The Lightning Thief

Student Achievement Awards
Marketing

Eleanor Cain, Weiss High School

Stage Management

Mikayla Stasny, Rouse High School

Design

Tyler Mayer, Dripping Springs High School

Training Scholarships
Balance Dance Studio Scholarship

Addie Villegas, Hendrickson High School

Adam Roberts’ Unique Voice Scholarship

Ryah Gonzales & Julianna Coco, Jack C. Hays High School

Impact Arts Audition Package

Allison Meredith, Jack C. Hays High School

Impact Arts’ Texas Arts Project Summer Camp

Savannah Baker, Tom Glenn High School

James Macgruder, Cedar Park High School

ZACH Theatre PPC Scholarship

Isis Lewis, Brentwood Christian School

James Magruder, Cedar Park High School

Olden Lighting Consultations

Elgin High School

Leander High School

Westwood High School

Cedar Park High School

Rouse High School

San Marcos High School

Congratulations to all the students, educators, families, and staff who contributed to this amazing night 🥳️ Be sure to follow @hellerawardsatx on your favorite social media platform to stay up to date on all things HAYA.

Don’t get us wrong — we’ve loved all the growing pains of creating theatre in a digital world these last two years. But we can say with all honesty that we’re so happy that the 2022 Heller Awards for Young Artists Ceremony will be returning to Dell Hall! We’re kicking things off big with a virtual Nominations Day stream to start the countdown to the big day. Tune in March 6 at 7:30pm on YouTube to watch with us!

You can expect a fully-produced opening number performed by the Select Ensemble, nomination announcements for 16 categories and 3 student achievement awards across 30+ school productions, and plenty of support and excitement for our return to the big stage.

CATCH UP BEFORE THE 2022 NOMINATIONS

Our 2021 Nominations stream started out with a musical number for the ages. Watch this collab from our Select Ensemble and HAYA alumni 👇

 

The show must go on – instead of skipping a year, we created an all-virtual production for 2021 with innovative tech from Co-Production House. Read all about it!

 

 

Relive the magic and see how our video capture translated to the big screen by watching the full 2021 Awards Ceremony all over again!

We hope you’ll tune in with us and support this incredible program. Show your support for arts education by following @hellerawardsatx on your social media platform of choice, or take it one step further and make a donation to the Heller Awards for Young Artists today. The future of arts education is here, and you can make sure it continues.

POSTED ON JUNE 29, 2021 BY LONG

This week’s Mid-Week Intermission features a dear friend of the Long Center who is constantly helping our community flourish — the one and only, Pamela Benson Owens! If you know Pam, then you’ll know she’s a self-described “long-time entrepreneur” who helps organizations become stronger, more effective, and mission-driven. Learn more about Pam as she spearheads the role of CEO with our friends over at Six Square — we speak from experience when we say that Pam is the very best of the best!

 

 

 

My name is Pamela Benson Owens, and yes, I use all three names.

Most people in the community call me Pam and the elders in my community have an entirely different set of names they call me by. The point is, over the last few months there is a new group of friends and colleagues that call and ask for me by name. The amazing team at the Long Center!

I’m a long-time entrepreneur, and I think that is confusing to many in Austin. It isn’t uncommon for me to hear people say, “Didn’t I just see you working at (fill in the blank)?” My answer is always, “Yes.” For the last several years I’ve had the humbling opportunity to help organizations be stronger, more effective and assist in removing obstacles and barriers that distract from the mission.

Currently, I am the CEO of Six Square, and it has been both amazing and absolutely gut wrenching at the same time. Like many other nonprofit organizations, the pandemic left us with a call to action to think differently about how we would curate meaningful work with a backdrop of social unrest and racial trauma on a variety of levels.

I am proud to say that we are still standing, having learned the importance of work/life integration, how to become even more astute listeners, and how to continue working hard to build beloved community in a time when most on the team felt exhausted and in many cases, scared for our lives.

Six Square, Austin’s Black cultural district, presents Beyond the Square Festival 2021, featuring the Queen of Bounce Big Freedia, along with Austin-based hip-hop duo Magna Carda and DJ Kay Cali at the Long Center on June 5, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Credit: Suzanne Cordeiro

Guests at Beyond the Square festival and Magna Carda, Credit: Suzanne Cordeiro

One of the most pivotal partnerships for us this year was working alongside the Long Center team to produce our annual Beyond the Square festival. When I reflect on the process, it really could be used as a blueprint for other organizations.

We were all intentional about getting to know each other better, which was more difficult in a virtual setting, but still beneficial. As we got to know each other better, we cultivated a real team spirit and everyone was leveraging their unique skills and immense talents to make the event successful. I can proudly say that the Long Center has become co-conspirators of culture in such a powerful way.

To be able to work together as a cross-cultural team was inspiring and fun! Although I’ve seen too many performances to name at the Long Center, working with the team is by far the best performance and most memorable gift to date. And, when anyone from the fabulous team at the Long Center calls me by name, I just smile and feel a deep sense of gratitude.

Queen of Bounce Big Freedia at the Long Center on June 5, 2021 for Six Square’s Beyond the Square Festival.
Credit: Suzanne Cordeiro

Be sure and keep up with all that our friends at Six Square, Austin’s Black Cultural District, have going on and how you can get involved.

POSTED ON DECEMBER 11, 2020 BY LONG

Applications open Friday, December 11 at www.thelongcenter.org/saveaustinvenues

AUSTIN, TX – The City of Austin Economic Development Department announces the launch of the Austin Live Music Venue Preservation Fund. The Austin City Council established the $15 million Save Austin’s Vital Economic Sectors (SAVES) Fund through Ordinance No. 20201001-052. Austin City Council adopted the final guidelines for the $5 million Austin Live Music Venue Preservation Fund on December 3, 2020 via Resolution No. 20200103-013. As part of a partnership with the City of Austin, the Long Center for the Performing Arts will provide application assistance, process applications, and administer funds.

“Live music venues strengthen our cultural and economic ecosystem and contribute to Austin’s international appeal,” notes Veronica Briseño, Austin’s Chief Economic Recovery Officer. “Our team worked with the Long Center to quickly open the application portal one week after Council approved the guidelines. Our goal is to have the money flow to live music venues before the end of the month. This critical support will help sustain our music venues until it is safe for them to reopen.”

Eligible live music venues must be located in a City of Austin City Council District; must meet the City’s definition of a live music venue; and must have significantly reduced operations since March 2020. Applicants must also meet or exceed the City’s COVID-19 safety guidelines, which can be found online at www.austintexas.gov/covid19.

“The Long Center is excited to be able to support the City and our music community by providing this critical community service. This opportunity aligns with our strategic goals to serve as a conduit and resource to the creative sector and a partner supporting the City’s efforts,” said Cory Baker, President & CEO of the Long Center. “As the creative community continues to struggle through the pandemic, preserving performance spaces across the city is vital. We are ready to roll up our sleeves and get assistance out quickly.”

The Austin Live Music Venue Preservation Fund will be distributed in two phases:

Phase 1: Emergency Funding

 

  • Eligible applicants experiencing immediate risk of closure will receive a $20,000 grant, which the Long Center will distribute in December 2020.
  • Services that will be available to venues receiving emergency funding include: legal and accounting services; real estate advice and guidance on lease negotiations; and other professional services and long-term planning from community experts.

 

Phase 2: Enhanced Funding

 

  • Eligible applicants can apply for additional grant funding up to $140,000 (this does not include funds received from the first phase).
  • Grant recipients must complete a technical assistance evaluation and an Equity Strategic Plan in order to apply for more funds during the second phase.
  • The funding will be distributed in monthly payments with a maximum of $40,000 per month.

 

Application Opens:

Friday, December 11, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

Application Closes:

Monday, January 11, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.

How to Apply

Application and eligibility guidelines available online at www.thelongcenter.org/saveaustinvenues

For eligibility questions and application assistance, contact the Long Center by email saveaustinvenues@thelongcenter.org or by phone 512-457-5181.

Austin SAVES Fund distribuirá dólares de alivio de COVID-19 a locales de música en vivo

El periodo de solicitud abre el viernes 11 de diciembre en www.thelongcenter.org/saveaustinvenues

AUSTIN, TX – El Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin anuncia el lanzamiento del Fondo de Preservación de Locales de Música en Vivo de Austin. El Consejo de la Ciudad de Austin estableció el Fondo de $15 millones, llamado “Salvando los Sectores Económicos Vitales de Austin” (SAVES, por sus siglas en inglés), a través de la Ordenanza No. 20201001-052. El Consejo adoptó las pautas finales para el Fondo de Preservación de Locales de Música en Vivo de Austin de $5 millones el 3 de diciembre de 2020 mediante la Resolución No. 20200103-013. Como parte de una asociación con la ciudad de Austin, el Long Center brindará asistencia con las solicitudes, procesará las solicitudes y administrará los fondos.

“Los locales de música en vivo fortalecen nuestro ecosistema cultural y económico y contribuyen al atractivo internacional de Austin”, señala Veronica Briseño, directora de recuperación económica de Austin. “Nuestro equipo trabajó con el Long Center para abrir rápidamente el portal de aplicaciones una semana después de que el Consejo aprobó las pautas. Nuestro objetivo es que el dinero fluya hacia los locales de música en vivo antes de fin de mes. Este apoyo fundamental ayudará a mantener en pie a nuestros locales de música hasta que sea seguro reabrirlos”.

Los locales de música en vivo elegibles deberán estar ubicados en un distrito del Consejo de la Ciudad de Austin; deberán cumplir con la definición de la ciudad de “locales de música en vivo”; y deberán haber reducido significativamente las operaciones desde marzo de 2020. Los solicitantes también deberán cumplir o superar las pautas de seguridad contra el COVID-19 de la ciudad, las cuales están disponibles en línea en www.austintexas.gov/covid19.

“En el Long Center estamos entusiasmados de poder apoyar a la Ciudad y a nuestra comunidad musical al brindar este servicio comunitario crítico. Esta oportunidad va de la mano con nuestros objetivos estratégicos de servir como conducto y recurso para el sector creativo y de ser socios que apoyan los esfuerzos de la ciudad”, aseguró Cory Baker, presidente y directora ejecutiva del Long Center. “A medida que la comunidad creativa continúa luchando contra la pandemia, es vital preservar los espacios escénicos alrededor de la ciudad. Estamos listos para ponernos a trabajar y dar ayuda rápidamente”.

El Fondo de Preservación de Locales de Música en Vivo de Austin se distribuirá en dos fases:

Fase 1: Financiamiento de Emergencia

 

  • Los solicitantes elegibles que experimenten un riesgo inmediato de cierre recibirán una subvención de $20,000 que el Long Center distribuirá en diciembre de 2020.
  • Los servicios que estarán disponibles para los locales que reciben fondos de emergencia incluyen servicios legales y de contabilidad; asesoramiento y orientación inmobiliaria en negociaciones de arrendamiento; y otros servicios profesionales de planificación a largo plazo por expertos de la comunidad.
  •  

Fase 2: Financiamiento Aumentado

 

  • Los solicitantes elegibles pueden solicitar una subvención adicional de hasta $140,000 (no incluye los fondos recibidos de la primera fase).
  • Los beneficiarios de la subvención deben completar una evaluación de asistencia técnica y un Plan Estratégico de Equidad para poder solicitar más fondos durante la segunda fase.
  • Los fondos se distribuirán en pagos mensuales con un máximo de $40,000 por mes.

 

Fecha de Apertura de Solicitud:

Viernes 11 de diciembre de 2020 a las 10:00 a.m.

Fecha de Cierre de Solicitud:

Lunes 11 de enero de 2021 a las 5:00 p.m.

Cómo Aplicar

Las pautas de solicitud y elegibilidad están disponibles en línea en www.thelongcenter.org/saveaustinvenues

Para preguntas sobre elegibilidad y asistencia con la solicitud, comuníquese con Long Center por correo electrónico a saveaustinvenues@thelongcenter.org o por teléfono al 512-457-5181.

###

About the City of Austin Economic Development Department

The City of Austin Economic Development Department supports business growth, creative industries, and local communities. These programs build an equitable, sustainable economy to improve the lives of all Austin residents. To learn more about helpful resources, visit www.austintexas.gov/edd or like us on Facebook @AustinEconDev and follow @AustinEconDev on Twitter.

Información sobre el Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin

El Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin apoya el crecimiento de los negocios, las industrias creativas y las comunidades locales. Estos programas construyen una economía equitativa y sostenible para mejorar las vidas de todos los residentes de Austin. Para aprender más sobre recursos útiles, visite www.austintexas.gov/edd o síganos en @AustinEconDev en Facebook y @AustinEconDev en Twitter.

About the Long Center for the Performing Arts

For Austinites of every background, the Long Center is the community gathering place that offers the most diverse programming and stunning views of the city, so that together, everyone can experience remarkable live arts and entertainment. The Long Center is dedicated to elevating Austin’s creative sector, serving artists across Austin, including creative organizations, musicians and performing artists, with both performance spaces and professional assistance.

Acerca del Long Center para las Artes Escénicas

Para los residentes de Austin de todos los orígenes, el Long Center es el lugar de reunión de la comunidad que ofrece la programación más diversa y las mejores vistas de la ciudad, para que juntos, todos puedan experimentar extraordinarias artes y entretenimiento en vivo. El Long Center está dedicado a elevar el sector creativo de Austin, sirviendo a artistas en todo Austin, incluidas organizaciones creativas, músicos y artistas, con espacios escénicos y asistencia profesional.

 

POSTED ON JUNE 14, 2021 BY LONG

From performing to advocating, today’s Mid-Week Intermission comes from our friend Nakia Reynoso. Not only is Nakia a creator — you might recognize his voice form our Good Vibes Only series or seen him on NBC’s “The Voice” — but he’s also a mover and shaker among Austin’s music community. Read on for more about his journey to the stage and the good work he and Austin Texas Musicians have done for this town.

 

Hey, y’all!
I’m Nakia.

ADVOCACY

I’m a working musician in Austin and the Board President of Austin Texas Musicians’ 501c4 nonprofit. We advocate for musicians on city, state, and federal policy, and work to serve musicians’ most basic needs. Our team is made up of musicians working for musicians, and we’re grateful to bring voices from all across our community to the table.

In the short time that Austin Texas Musicians has been in existence, we’ve been instrumental in getting the Live Music Fund, Austin’s first-ever sustainable public funding for music, on the table. As well, we rallied musicians to bring $5 Million in aid to Austin’s music venues until the lights came back on.

Our Musicians Advisory Panel members have registered over 700 voters in Travis County, brought issues of equity for all diverse musicians forward, and are now engaged in projects surrounding corporate relations, affordable housing, and life insurance/retirement plans for musicians. The work we are doing is truly groundbreaking stuff, and I’m humbled to serve alongside Board Members Sonya Jevette and Executive Director Pat Buchta.

LEGACY

I moved to Austin almost twenty years ago to begin my musical career and, besides marrying my wonderful husband Robert, this is the best decision I’ve ever made. In 2011 I was honored to be chosen to compete in the first season of NBC’s “The Voice,” when CeeLo Green turned his chair around in response to my bold cover of his hit song “Forget You.”

This proved to be a pivotal moment in my career, paving the way for many musical highlights to come.

And just as importantly, it opened me up to a world of music advocacy, as I served as the Chair of Austin’s Music Commission, a HAAM Advisory Board member, and a key figure in the creation of the 2015 Austin Music Census. Most recently, I was honored to be chosen as 2021 Texas Chapter Governor for the Recording Academy/Grammys.

It may seem like I”m all over the map with these projects and commitments, but in reality, I love being a homebody with my husband Robert and our big beautiful Bouvier De Flandres, Baker.

ART

At the beginning and end of the day, I’m an artist and I have to create. In addition to my acting and soundtrack work with three award-winning digital series, I was honored to partner with Savannah Welch’s 9-year-old son, Charlie, this year in creating “It’s Never Too Late,” an inspiring song about the importance of love, kindness, and mental health. Portions of the sales of the single via my Bandcamp page benefits our friends at the SIMS Foundation. I even taught myself how to animate the lovely Ben Wu illustrations for lyric video!

One of the things I really love about the Long Center is their commitment to serving the community at large, and the way in which they’ve leaned into booking more diverse talent that represents Austin’s rich musical heritage. It was an easy and emphatic “YES!” for me when the LC approached me to be the voice of their Good Vibes Only concert series, and I’m excited to see what exciting things lay ahead as we work together to create culture that serves all of Austin. A great way to check out how the Long Center is shining a light on local musicians is their outdoor concert series, The Drop-In, happening every Thursday this summer. Keep your eyes open to find out when I’ll be playing the series soon!

Catch Nakia at The Drop-In soon — you can find those updates Fridays on social media. And be sure to listen as his voice sets the scene for our next Good Vibes Only featuring Jake Lloyd, June 23rd at 8pm RSVP so you don’t forget!

POSTED ON MAY 21, 2021 BY LONG

That’s a wrap for the 2021 Heller Awards for Young Artists (HAYAs), and might we say it was probably the coolest awards yet! We always knew this program was something special. What we never imagined, is that it would be the leader in virtual theatrical production.

With…

  • Performances featuring over 250 high school students
  • Over 20 schools presented
  • 40 students filmed at Austin’s Co-Production House using the same virtual production studio technology as The Mandalorian
  • Video compilations showcasing ALL nominees
  • 10 dynamic presenters

…and boundless amounts of heart and celebration, we could not be more proud.

A huge congratulations to all of our nominees who stayed creative, positive, and inspired through this year. And without further ado, here are your 2021 Award Recipients.

SOLO MUSICAL THEATRE
Senior Division

1ST PLACE
Cassandra Chapman ROUND ROCK

2ND PLACE
Grace Sheidow ROUND ROCK

3RD PLACE
Sareena Hampton ROUSE

SOLO MUSICAL THEATRE
Underclassmen Division

1ST PLACE
JP Lopez ROUSE

2ND PLACE
McKenlee Wilson WEISS

3RD PLACE
Scott Bratton ROUSE

GROUP MUSICAL THEATRE

1ST PLACE
The Plastics ROUND ROCK

2ND PLACE
On Our Way ROUND ROCK

3RD PLACE
Rouse Little Priest ROUSE

WILD CARD PERFORMANCE

1ST PLACE
LBJECHS Freshman Choir LBJ/LASA

2ND PLACE
Isabelle Saquing LBJ/LASA

3RD PLACE
Mackenzie Thornton VISTA RIDGE

ORIGINAL SONG

1ST PLACE
Gavin Rojas LEANDER

2ND PLACE
Augustus Cosby ST. STEPHEN’S

3RD PLACE
Jackson Urbach VISTA RIDGE

MUSICAL THEATRE INNOVATION

1ST PLACE
Lucy Sugawa LBJ/LASA

2ND PLACE
Rouse Never Know ROUSE

3RD PLACE
Rouse Girl Band ROUSE

TECHNICAL THEATRE DESIGN

1ST PLACE
Eli Patterson MARBLE FALLS

2ND PLACE
Eula Tomamao MARBLE FALLS

3RD PLACE
Taylor Gunter MARBLE FALLS

COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS

Abigail Bensman ROUND ROCK

Zayan Culberson LBJ Early College

Taylor Fambrough WESTLAKE

Grayson Gower ROUSE

Ashlen Herrin VISTA RIDGE

Ally McSorley LEANDER

Alisha Morejon LASA

Adam Romer LEANDER

Mackenzie Thornton VISTA RIDGE

SCHOOL GRANTS

CROCKETT

HAYS

LASA

LEHMAN

NYOS

REWATCH THE SHOW

That’s a wrap folks! Show your support for arts education by following @hellerawardsatx on your social media platform of choice, or take it one step further and make a donation to the Heller Awards for Young Artists today.

POSTED ON MAY 17, 2021 BY LONG

What happens when the show can’t go on? You create a virtual production, of course! This Mid-Week Intermission comes from friend Justin Kirchhoff who’s changing the virtual game as Co-Founder & CEO of Co-Production House. He and his team have been hard at work with the Heller Awards for Young Artists, making sure the show really can go on with their LED volume technology. Don’t know what that is? Read on and find out!

Hi there, I’m Justin Kirchhoff

Co-Founder & CEO of Co-Production House, a virtual production studio with Austin’s first LED volume technology.

The team at CPH includes my business partners, Kristina Smith (Co-Founder and President) and Keller Davis (Co-Owner), our Community Manager Alava Sim, and Kyle Kirchhoff, who rounds out the technical side of our team while also managing our studio. We are excited to be leading Austin’s film, commercial, and business markets into the world of virtual production and love the chance of explaining exactly what it is that we do.

We often get asked, “What is virtual production? What is a LED volume?” Our virtual production capabilities include producing media “virtually,” within the confines of a digital program, and projecting digital environments in a real physical world using our LED volume. An LED volume is quite literally a digital backdrop, not far off from how movies from the 1920s-1960s often used rear projection to showcase actors driving in a car, moving on a train, or even on the 100th floor of a skyscraper.

When the Long Center had announced they wouldn’t be hosting shows in Dell Hall just yet, Ginger Morris of the Heller Awards for Young Artists immediately came to us and asked what we were capable of in order to showcase these young performers doing what they do best. We quickly started putting the pieces together over the course of two and a half weeks, finding digital environments to help sell the idea these young performers were in location that could otherwise be difficult or expensive to produce.

We integrated our VOLUME stage, which includes a 20’x10′ LED wall, consisting of multiple panels, immersing the talent in the virtual environment. With the VOLUME you can produce content all over the world and more, in a single day. The HAYAs asked for over 25 environments in 4 production days, which is unheard of for a film production shoot. Normally, you would have to move your entire cast and crew to each location, which costs a lot of time and money, where the advantage of using our LED Volume allowed us to change locations in a few clicks of a button. It allowed us to focus on performances rather than the disturbances that come with shooting in uncontrolled locations.

The HAYA project was a fantastic experience for our team and also for the young performers. They were excited to be there, immersed in the world their characters lived in. There is always a tremendous payoff when a production is over. We saw the kids get so excited when they looked at our studio monitor. They instantly realized that the digital world behind them truly helped motivate their characters’ actions.

We were incredibly lucky to take part in this year’s Heller Awards for Young Artists. The opportunity to pull off this production in such a short amount of time really set in stone the capabilities of virtual production here at CPH.

We created CPH as a place where professionals can work and grow their businesses through collaboration with the added benefits of creative support, business development, and networking events designed to improve the growth of the creative film and media professionals in Austin, Texas.

We host monthly creative events, which include music from a local band or musician, an artist that showcases the work they’ve been producing, and a learning moment where we show a demonstration of virtual production practices in an everyday production environment.

We take each production that uses our services and provide them the best experience available. Teaming up with the HAYAs has been a grand experience, and we are looking forward to tuning into the livestream of the Awards on May 23rd. See you all then!

Sincerely,
Justin Kirchhoff
Co-Founder/CEO of Co-Production House

Countdown to the 8th Annual Heller Awards for Young Artists with us, streaming on YouTube Sunday night, May 23rd, at 7:30pm. This is one for the books, folks!

POSTED ON MAY 13, 2021 BY LONG

We think it’s safe to say that this past year has been unlike any other… but Austin’s students, teachers, and arts education programs have persevered! When we started the Heller Awards for Young Artists in 2013 (you know, way back in the GAHSMTA days) our goal was always arts education and community building over competition. What we never imagined, is that it would be the leader in virtual theatrical production.

Now that we’re coming up on the 8th Annual HAYA Awards Ceremony — don’t forget to tune in Sunday night at 7:30pm and cheer on our 2021 Nominees — we thought it was time to make sure everyone knew what this program was all about plus what has made this year so special, above it all.

The 2021 Awards Ceremony is unbelievable, to say the least — with performances featuring over 250 high school students, 40 students filmed at Austin’s Co-Production House using the same virtual production studio technology as The Mandalorian, and boundless amounts of heart and celebration — here’s a little rundown on what you might have missed this year.

So, what are the Heller Awards for Young Artists?

Each year, this program works with 30+ high schools and 4,500+ students from across Central Texas to provide resources and key support systems for musical theatre programs including professional training, mentorship, master classes, performance opportunities, and industry networking.

Culminating in a sold-out annual Awards Ceremony with uproarious cheers and lots of happy tears, these students have the opportunity to come together to perform at the Long Center, learn from one another’s experience, grow their artistic abilities, and build lasting connections.

Although this school year has been more than challenging, our commitment to arts education has not changed. Because the show must go on, and so the HAYAs made it so!

Theatre for the Digital World

Creativity was our priority this year, and to make sure students could continue to create, develop their own creativity, and feel inspired, we completely transformed the HAYAs for 2021. This mean forgoing the usual school-to-school competition that highlighted full-scale musical productions, and shifting our focus to digital theatre that could be created in any learning environment. And we heard it made quite the impact

THIS INCLUDED
Providing 12 online workshops in digital theatre production
Creating 7 new digital award categories
Expanding the competition for original content creation and digital entries

Plus, our Education team has made some pretty cool digital productions along the way, like this opening number from the 2021 Nominations Event featuring our Select Ensemble.

We hope you’ll tune in with us and support this incredible program. We’re pretty sure Sunday night’s Awards Ceremony will be the most unique piece of digital filmmaking you’ve ever seen. Show your support for arts education by following @hellerawardsatx on your social media platform of choice, or take it one step further and make a donation to the Heller Awards for Young Artists today. The future of arts education is here, and you can make sure it continues.

POSTED ON MAY 4, 2021 BY LONG

We always love featuring our friends at Austin Asian American Film Festival, but this month we had a special excuse… Dive into Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month with Ray Loyd, AAAFF Aritstic Director, as he shares in this Mid-Week Intermission what the 13th annual fest is up to, other local fests you’ll want to check out, and his list of AAPI film recommendations you’re gonna want to marathon.

 

Hey! My name’s Ray.

I’m the Artistic Director of the Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF), so I head up Creative and Marketing Operations for the fest. We’re a nonprofit organization with a small, passionate staff, an amazing group of volunteers, and a supportive board of directors. Our mission is to champion Asian and AAPI cinema by bringing it to the Austin community.

Before I was on staff, I attended an AAAFF screening of WHO KILLED VINCENT CHIN? as an audience member 4 years ago and was instantly inspired by the team and what they were doing. Soon after, I joined the programming team and eventually moved into my current role where I get to dive into design, video, content, and marketing strategy. Outside of the fest, I’m also a Video Producer at Alamo Drafthouse where I’ve gained a lot of my recent experience. It’s really a privilege to be able to say that celebrating movies is the core of my professional life these days.

This year, the 13th annual Austin Asian American Film Festival is a hybrid fest happening from June 4th to the 20th. Of course, we’re disappointed that it isn’t our typical in-person experience, but excited about the opportunities that a virtual festival can offer (example: all of Texas can access our films straight from their home!). But don’t worry, once we’re able to plan in-theater events again, we will (shout out to our usual home, AFS Cinema). As for the other part of the fest this June? We’ll be hosting a few safe, special outdoor events that will be announced very soon, so stay tuned…

Also, if you’re looking to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month this May, AAAFF has partnered with Visual Communications to help curate free films and conversations for the Asian Pacific Virtual Showcase. It’s a great program presented by AAPI film fests across the country.

The Long Center has played a part of my Austin moviegoing experience, too. I’ve sweated it out and had a blast at the popular Sound & Cinema series in past summers. But one of my fondest AAAFF memories there was the CRAZY RICH ASIANS Night Market event in 2018. It was great to see everyone’s excitement for the movie, but just as wonderful that AAAFF and so many local organizations and vendors came together to serve the AAPI community.

I know I’ve talked a lot about myself and AAAFF here, but I also want to plug some other great film festivals in town who always inspire and support us: aGLIFFCine Las AmericasCapital City Black Film FestivalOUTsider FestIndieMeme, and many more. They truly make the Austin film scene special.

Final cheeseball thought: Movies have the power to make us feel seen or to learn about the world through another lens. But that only happens when diverse stories are told!

AAPI Movies that I Love (and Hope that You’ll Love, too)

CHAN IS MISSING
BETTER LUCK TOMORROW
SAVING FACE
THE NAMESAKE
MINDING THE GAP
MINARI
JADDOLAND

For more info about AAAFF and the upcoming June festival head to aaafilmfest.org. To check out some of my work, head to raycloyd.com.

Lots going on in the Austin film scene — hope you get to tune in to one of the above film fests as you stay tuned for more live events from us and our partners around town.

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