Heller Awards 101

It’s… a… musical, a musical
And nothing’s as amazing as a musical
With song and dance and sweet romance
And happy endings happening by happenstance
Bright lights, stage fights, and a dazzling chorus
You wanna be great, then you gotta create a musical

It’s true, folks. That sentiment is more than just lyrics from Something Rotten! Nothing is quite as amazing as a musical. Being in one, watching one from the house, working on one behind the scenes. It’s all amazing. That’s why we and so many others across Austin, nay, the nation, nay, the world invest time and effort into musical theatre education programs. You may have heard about a little ditty we do called the Heller Awards for Young Artists, and its national counterpart the Jimmy Awards®… oh, you haven’t? Well, let us enlighten you 😁


Photo by Henry Huey

Imagine Austin’s version of the Tony Awards! Musical performances, bright lights, bobby pins, hair spray, shedding of tears… you get it. Each April at the Heller Awards for Young Artists (we call these the HAYAs), participating schools come to pay tribute to the value of arts education, collaboration, and creativity. They gather together at the Long Center to celebrate themselves, their peers, and their support systems with an evening of well-mannered frivolity and lots of singing. But hold up, we’re putting the cart before the horse here…

Each fall, Austin-area high schools have the chance to register their school to participate. And get this — there’s no registration fee. That’s right, it’s 100% FREE to participate! And if you know the Long Center, you know free is our favorite f-word 😉 After registration is complete, judges attend each participating school’s performance of that year’s musical and score them based on how well they lived up to their potential. You read that right; the schools aren’t compared to each other, but rather compared to their own resources and ability. 

After each school is adjudicated, the nominations come out! Check out 2023’s nominations livestream on YouTube for a little preview of what to expect in 2024. Next comes lots more hard work getting ready for the Awards, and then… the big day! Picture this: red carpet, camera flash, acceptance speeches, and evening gowns galore. It really is the best day of the year!

That sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but it’s 100% worth it. From 2014 with 19 participating schools to 2024 with 35+ participating schools, we’re feelin’ pretty good about how tomorrow will look. Whether students’ futures lie in the performing arts, private sector, public service, or fields that don’t exist yet, the HAYAs are their onramp to a bright future. 


Photo by Dave Hawks

Aw, that’s so flattering that you want out hang out with us 😊

Here’s how you can join in on the fun:

  • Sign up for email updates so you don’t miss a thing.
  • Watch nominations! Catch up by watching last year’s livestream, then watch with us on Sunday, March 3.
  • Follow us on socials! You can find us on your favorite platform at @hellerawardsatx.
  • If you’re a parent or caregiver, talk with your student’s teacher(s) about how you can support their musical and any prep needed for the HAYAs. We’re willing to bet they’d love some extra hands.
  • Consider making a donation (pretty please)!
  • Wanna sponsor the 2024 awards? We’ll gladly take your money! Shoot us an email and let’s get talking.

This is usually where we’d make a joke about the curtain closing and taking a final bow, but we’re really just getting started! Break a leg to all the performers, techies, crew, and educators out there. It’s going to be a great year 🤩


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.

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