Nearly 270 young artists from across Oklahoma—including three from Claremore—spent a week studying with internationally renowned faculty and celebrity guest artists at the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute (OSAI). The attendees were selected from over 1,000 applicants during a competitive statewide audition process last winter, and they studied one of eight artistic disciplines: acting, chorus, creative writing, dance, drawing & painting, film & video, orchestra or photography.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute could not be held at Quartz Mountain this year. But instead of canceling the program, the organization created robust online programming, called "OSAI at Home." With even more instructors than usual and nightly presentations from superstars like Misty Copeland of American Ballet Theatre, students convened in the online world for masterclasses with artist-educators in their field, workshopping and critiques, one-on-one lessons, and opportunities to build community with other young artists from across the state.
The Claremore students who attended OSAI at Home are Natalie Schubert (Creative Writing), Max Stadler (Chorus) and Becca Worthington (Acting).
"My week at OSAI was better than I could have ever imagined," said Schubert. "I not only learned new and different ways of creating and looking at creative writing, but I also received great advice from my peers, liaisons, and instructor to build my confidence and carry these skills over after OSAI."
While working from home provided challenges to students and faculty alike, the students and faculty found that the "Quartz Mountain Magic"—the spirit of community and collaboration—could, in fact, exist online.
"The intense learning that happens at OSAI is not restricted by tests or state guidelines, so we were able to go way more in-depth and talk about harder subjects," said Stadler.
Participants particularly enjoyed the nightly guest artist lectures and Q&A sessions, where the students had a chance to learn and interact with dancer Misty Copeland and other extraordinary artists, including Tony Award-winner Kelli O'Hara and creator of the "Radiolab" podcast, Jad Abumrad.
"When I got the opportunity to attend the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, I felt like I was in a place where my talent mattered,” said Worthington. “OSAI gave me the skills needed to get into a top-notch acting school, where I plan to train at for the next four years. It has made me a better person, allowed me to meet great friends, helped me hone my craft, and given me the chance to grow."
Superintendent Hofmeister applauded the students' hard work and commitment to their art form.
"I am so proud of these students. The fire inside them burns bright, and their courageous creativity will ensure a brighter future for the state of Oklahoma," Hofmeister said.
Through its partnership with the State of Oklahoma, as well as support from numerous private donors, the Arts Institute ensures that every student accepted to OSAI receives a full scholarship to attend. Scholarships for Claremore students were provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the George Kaiser Family Foundation. Additional program support was provided by the Oklahoma Arts Council, the Jerome Westheimer Family Foundation, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, the Harris Foundation, the OKC Midtown Rotary Club and the Zarrow Foundations. This project was supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.