GREENFIELD — The stakes are high: More than $25,000 in scholarships await the top talent in the Vaughn Performing Arts Scholarship at 7 p.m. on April 10 at the H. J. Ricks Centre for the Arts.
The annual George and Icy Vaughn Performing Arts Scholarship came about in 1999 when George Vaughn, preceded in death by his wife, Icy, left their estate to the Hancock County Community Foundation and charged them with the stewardship of an endowment that would forever generate grants for scholarships.
The Vaughns were inspired by the young people who performed for the residents at the nursing home where they spent their last years. Because the Vaughns wanted to share their appreciation of the performing arts, the fund provides for both a scholarship and a community performing arts event.
“Stewardship of our donors’ intentions comes with the great responsibility of doing so in a manner that forever honors their wishes while maximizing the gift’s charitable impact,” said foundation president Mary Gibble.
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The first awards, given in 2003, totaled $4,000, but the scholarship has grown tremendously, resulting in awards totaling $25,000 in 2015, which is the largest of the foundation’s scholarship awards to date generated from a single fund.
The growth of the scholarship endowment resulted in HCCF’s rethinking of the competition platform and how the scholarship applicants had traditionally been determined.
HCCF’s Board of Directors took a hard look at the format of the competition and decided to make changes.
In past years, four disciplines of vocal, instrumental, theatrical and dance competed in a talent show format. This year’s competitors will be judged against contestants in their same category.
“It’s our hope that the new format of the competition will increase the scholarship’s impact and transition the competition away from a talent show format,” Gibble said.
In March, each of the four county schools conducted auditions to determine their top vocalist and instrumentalist to compete in front of the community April 10.
Each of the seven finalists received a $500 scholarship and will end up winning scholarships between $1,000 and $4,000.
Another change from previous years is the move of the performance to a Friday evening in hopes of drawing a bigger crowd and building on downtown Greenfield’s Second Friday event
The competition remains free and open to the public.
Contestant Emily Burden, from New Palestine High School, is preparing to play a flute composition called “Fantasie,” by Hue.
“I will play it and do my best and see what the judges have to say,” said Burden, who plans to attend Brigham Young University to major in music this fall.
Ben Maynard, a Greenfield-Central High School competitor, selected Goedicke’s “Concert Etude” for trumpet as his performance piece.
“The piece has some very fast notes, and I picked it so I would work on that technique every time I practiced it,” Maynard said,
While the judges will be making the scholarship decisions, the audience has a role in selecting the People’s Choice winner. Inside everyone’s program will be a ballot for audience members to vote. Five hundred dollars will be donated in the name of the People’s Choice Award winner to the high school performing arts department of the his or her choice.
“It’s going to be a great performance,” said Kari Sisk, scholarship officer at the foundation.