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Creative Arts Scholarship

2 winners, $1,500 each
Application Deadline
Jun 30, 2024
Winners Announced
Jul 30, 2024
Education Level
High School, Undergraduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Performing arts: music, dance, theater, etc.
Education Level:
High school senior, undergraduate

Legendary actor Robin Williams once said that “by being entertaining, you make a connection with another person.” 

The performing arts thrive on evoking feelings and making these connections with an audience. Performers have the power to conjure laughter, smiles, tears, shock, suspense, and so much more. Through performance, people can express themselves in unique ways. To support the future of the performing arts, the Studio Fine Arts Scholarship will support high school seniors and undergraduate students from Illinois who plan to continue on in their artistic education in the future. Those planning to pursue majors in the arts, such as music, theater, dance, etc. are eligible to apply. 

In your application, write about an artist that influenced you and how their direction has led you to where you are now. Also, talk a little bit about your favorite experience so far that you’ve had in the arts.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published April 15, 2024
Essay Topic

Tell us about someone artistic who has been influential in your life and how they shaped the direction you're heading in now. Additionally, what has been your favorite experience in the arts so far?

400–600 words

Winning Application

Victoria Kirby
Maranatha Baptist UniversityPecatonica, IL
Art has so fundamentally been a part of who I am that I cannot be separated from it. I can still remember feeling the warmth of the lights on my face during my first time on stage as a nine-year-old in a small production of The Secret Garden. Since then, many teachers and coaches have come and gone, but one has stayed the same. Amanda Warren. Amanda Warren has been the most inspirational woman to me. She runs her own photography business with grace, teaches with understanding, and has shaped me into who I am today. I met Amanda when I was a freshman in high school attending a drama camp. During that week, Amanda worked tirelessly to give this random group of teens the best experience on stage that she could. She taught us stage directions, presence, and other useful tips that I still use today. When I went to that drama camp, I thought theatre would forever just stay as my extracurricular activity but never be able to be my real focus. Because someone told me I should start looking for “a real job” and that shaped my formative years. I grew up thinking the only talent I knew I had, I couldn’t pursue. But Amanda came and showed me that not only could theatre be part of my life, but I could excel in it too. Her hard work and determination in her craft as an artist pushed me to pursue theatre in college. At college, Amanda shifted to wearing the hat of my professor. No matter the day she had, Amanda put her students first. And this caused me day after day to be thankful for her as a teacher. At this time, she showed me what it means to be passionate about teaching the next generation of artists. I want to be a teacher and show my students that the arts are a beautiful gift that we have to share. Amanda has now shifted to being one of my best friends. There has never been a time that Amanda hasn’t helped me. What started as a camp counselor has grown into a friendship that I can trace in all parts of my life, shaping who I am today. She encourages me to not give up in my pursuit of theatre, even when it is hard. This allowed me to experience one of my favorite moments on stage. This was during The Studio's production of Grimm. At that time I was facing life struggles beyond what I thought I could handle. But during a song called “Home,” I was masked by an emotional scene and I couldn’t help but cry. Theatre has been a constant part of my life as other things and people leave. It always provides an escape for me and a way for me to share my passion. There, on the Grimm set, surrounded by the most beautiful voices of people I love the most, the only thought in my head was “I am home, this is all I need”. The lyrics say “the brothers Grimm found refuge there” and those lyrics perfectly explain theatre in my life. The most meaningful part of the arts is that they are meant to provide a way to connect to those around us and bring together, and that is what I wish to give back with my work. Things may come and go, but the connection of art cannot be replaced or forgotten in my life and I am thankful for all those who have helped me come to this moment in my life.
Janey Currie
Rockford Christian High SchoolRockford, IL
Imagine a video game whose art style and direction makes you feel as if you are playing a storybook or even a movie, whose story is mysterious and captivating, whose music can create emotions of excitement or the feeling of loss depending on how many instruments or what kind are used, a game who makes you care about the well-being of its characters and take interest in them. Then imagine finding out this amazing game and its world were made by only two people, as opposed to normal games which have teams of hundreds if not thousands of members playing their parts to create the environments, stories, characters, and gameplay. Hollow Knight is an indie game crafted by my two role models: Ari Gibson and William Pellen. Two game developers from Australia who had the dream of creating their own game. Down on funding, they created a Kickstarter campaign to hopefully gain supporters to help fund their prototype game. With only character designs made in photoshop and some mechanics made in Stencyl, people still fell in love with their concept and artwork showing off the future game. Despite seeking $35,000, the kickstarter campaign brought in over $57,000. This allowed the team to hire a composer, Christopher Larkin, to create a soundtrack for the game. As well as this, they were able to make the game three times as expansive as they originally intended. Three more locations, many more characters, and loads of amazing content were able to be added. The team even allowed every single kickstarter to design their own character and lore to be included in the game. Team Cherry, as the developers call themselves, had a goal and stuck to it despite how insurmountable it seemed. Two people created a greater game than even some of the biggest companies out there. Rather than caving in and selling their prototype to be made by someone else, they wanted to see it through. They created the world, characters, combat, environments, and so much more all by themselves. I have been taught that I don’t need a lot of people to create what I aspire to. All it takes is an idea and the willpower to see it through. Kind people will also step up to help out if they genuinely care. Excuses were not and still are not made as the team is planning to release their second game by either the end of 2023 or beginning of 2024, and it has been in development for five years. Their example has given me a goal. Instead of settling at some company making games I have no passion for, I plan to create my own. Before playing Hollow Knight, I did not imagine such a feat would be possible. I now realize, as long as I have a desire to create, I can do so and the rest will follow suit-even if it takes a little while. As for my favorite experience in the arts, it is hard to pick one, as I consider games to be artworks of their own. Hollow Knight of course is one of my favorite gaming experiences, as well as many others that I could gush about for hours upon hours. Video games are unfairly overlooked as ‘art’ because people do not understand the amount of genres and kinds of games out there and how they pull you in and you don’t want to put it down until you’re finished. Video games are art experiences, and more people need to realize this. Hopefully, more people can be inspired by video games as I have been.
Madison Gunderson
University of MississippiRockton, IL
While many artists have influenced me on my path to a career in the arts, there is one person who stands out. When I was 7 years old, I had a dance teacher, Mariah, whom I did not know would be one of the most influential people in my life 11 years later. My junior year of high school she choreographed my solo and changed the way I view my abilities as an artist. This was the solo that allowed me to see what I could do rather than what I could not. Mariah, similar to me, has strengths in story telling and virtuosity rather than competitive tricks. Thus, my solo focused on the movement quality and musicality that best told a story rather than putting in tricks for the sake of competition. This piece was an artwork, not a competitive dance. Despite that, our piece excelled at competitions. I scored higher than I ever had in past years. In the end, a plastic trophy that says "Diamond" has no value in the long run, but that year, it showed me that what I had to offer was just as valuable. This year of my life showed me that my artistry is valid regardless of other people’s work or opinions. Despite this significant discovery I made in my high school years, I struggled to maintain a sense of value in my artistry as a dancer in future years. When I first started college, I was determined to prove that I wasn’t just a dancer, that I could sing and act as well. However, issues arose when auditions came around and I tried to convince myself that I was less of a dancer than I was because I wanted a part. Eventually, I learned that this was hurting me. Not only was I trying to erase a part of my identity that had been solidified for 14 years of my life, but I also was failing to recognize the power of dance. A close friend then told me that “Dance is your superpower” and ever since I've held this truth close to my heart. Those lessons from Mariah about my individual artistry had finally rekindled. I realized that I can be anything. Just because dance is my strong suit doesn’t mean I am any less of a singer and actor than my peers. I can be a “yes and” not an “either or”. In my work, it is my responsibility to bring myself with everything I have to offer and let go of directors' views of me. Not to mention, dance has always been a part of my spirit and attempting to suppress it would only be a betrayal to myself. Interestingly and not surprising at all, my favorite experience in the arts involves a heavy dance show: Newsies. The moment in “Once and for All” where the cast walks towards the audience singing their everything out is by far my favorite. Getting to experience the feeling of your souls interlocking when multiple people are singing or dancing with the same level of passion and commitment is a pleasure that most humans don’t get to experience. Along with this incredible sensation, there is this feeling that you represent something bigger than yourself. This show exemplifies how we can honor those before us with the music we sing. Music and dance allow us to connect spiritually with those around us and pay tribute to the many artists and world changers before and after our time, thus I am most grateful that I am among the fortunate who get to pursue this passion.
Natalie Hahn
Hononegah Community High SchoolRoscoe, IL


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jun 30, 2024. Winners will be announced on Jul 30, 2024.