Everything You Need to Know about the 2020-21 Heller Awards for Young Artists

After an inspiring, creative, tough, extraordinary, challenging, enriching, uplifting, and satisfying 2020 virtual ceremony — seriously, well done everyone! — the Heller Awards for Young Artists are back and ready for another year, whatever comes our way. And keep an eye out — you’ll see us sporting our new @hellerawardsatx social handles, too!

You can count on us to celebrate excellence in musical theatre, especially where Austin’s young artists are involved. Over the past 7 years, we’ve gotten used to doing this with our beloved red-carpet ceremony, and though we don’t know what next spring will bring, you bet we’ll still be highlighting the hard work of Austin’s schools, educators, and students, and bringing you messages of creativity, hope, and humor along the way.

What’s new this year?

To best meet the needs of the vast network of Greater Austin schools, we’ve revamped a few things:

After extensive listening and planning, we were intent that no school should feel like participation in the 2020-21 HAYA program wasn’t an option this year. We know each school has differing levels of ability and capacity to create musicals safely and that some may not feel that they can do much at all. That’s why we’ve chosen to eliminate the usual competition between schools and instead celebrate and support whatever musical theatre looks like this year. Instead, schools are encouraged to submit brief video content showcasing anything that combines song, dance, and storytelling. Our three favorite things!

Also new this year is an optional student competition. Allowing the creativity of our students to freely flow, this is their opportunity to work independently or as a virtual team to create content in various categories — like solos, edited group numbers, original songs, technical design, and more — and proudly represent their school programs.

To keep our community even more connected, we’ll be rolling out a schedule of workshops, master classes, guest lectures, and more throughout the year. Plus, for the first time ever, we’re excited to highlight middle school programs, too!

How will Select Ensemble work this year?

Rest assured, Select Ensemble will be featured in the awards no matter what! This exciting opportunity for passionate and dedicated high school students is as active as ever. Rehearsals may look a little bit different, but there will still be several opportunities for this +25-student, audition-only ensemble to perform in a multitude of safe settings.

Learn everything you need to know to make your Select Ensemble audition your best yet, including some tips and tricks — the deadline to submit your pre-recorded videos or have a Zoom audition is Monday, October 12! Check out your audition materials and get working. We can’t wait to get started!

And what will the ceremony look like?

We may not know exactly what the 2020-21 ceremony will look like, but we do know it’ll be just as creative as ever. It my be live… it may be virtual… but either way we know it’ll be a good time!

If you’re feeling sentimental, re-live the magic of last year’s ceremony and look out for some blasts from the past on @hellerawardsatx.

Every year the Long Center brings together over thirty schools from our community to shine the spotlight on the hard work of thousands of students and teachers involved in arts education at the Heller Awards for Young Artists. We’re pleased to say this year will be no different!

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