Young artistic talent recognized | April 27, 2012 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - April 27, 2012

Young artistic talent recognized

Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council YEA awards given at Firehouse Arts Center

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

The artistic talents of some Pleasanton youths were recognized April 19 at the Firehouse Arts Center during the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council's annual award event. The winners of the Youth Excellence in Arts (YEA) awards were announced in front of family, friends, teachers and members of the community.

"PCAC is especially passionate about passing the torch for the arts on to the next generation so that the arts in Pleasanton continue to thrive and be a part of the community," explained Jill Vellinger, president of PCAC. "One way we do this is through the YEA Awards."

YEA began in 2002 and recognizes talent in young artists of Pleasanton middle and high schools, from all the arts disciplines: creative writing, visual arts, music and the performing arts.

PCAC awards cash scholarships to the winners, who are selected following auditions in front of judges. Winners are recognized at the annual PCAC Awards event at the Firehouse Arts Center where they perform and showcase their art for the audience.

The winners of the 2012 YEA awards are as follows:

* Max Biggs Literary Award

-- High School: Andrea Deng, senior, Amador Valley High School

-- Middle school: Nicolaus Massie, sixth-grader, Harvest Park Middle School

* Phyllis Wentworth Fine Arts Award: Julia Feng, junior, Foothill High School

* Pleasanton Arts League: Michael Chew, junior, Amador Valley High School

* Renee Smith Music Award:

-- High school: Esther Kim, junior, Foothill High School, and Nisha Kale, sophomore, Amador Valley High School

-- Middle school: Hannah Scarborough, eighth-grader, Harvest Park Middle School

For Amador Valley senior Andrea Deng, winning the Max Biggs Literary Award for her short story "Sparrow on the Wall" was a big surprise.

"I was thrilled to win," said Deng. "I learned of this competition when searching for scholarships to help me get ready for college. It was great to find one right here in Pleasanton."

The Gordon and Renee Smith Music Award was shared by violinist Esther Kim and pianist Nisha Kale, who were equally excited about winning.

"I'm very happy and honored to be able to share my classical music," Kim said. "This is the first competition in my hometown and the Firehouse is such a great venue."

Kale, also a basketball player, said this competition was very different from others she has attended.

"Most competitions are a bunch of judges listening to you and then you get a letter in the mail telling you if you won," she said. "This competition made me feel very appreciated because the judges talked with me, got to know me, and gave me direct feedback. I am really honored to receive the award and share it with another musician who is so good."

Past PCAC president David Wright, who served as master of ceremonies, spoke to the winners about continuing to develop their talent even if they do not choose it as a career, saying that their lives will benefit from their participation in the arts. But he also shared his concern that arts programs in the schools continue to lose funding, and that's why PCAC exists, to help schools and youths experience and develop in the arts.

Vellinger echoed the message.

"As funding for arts continues to be cut, PCAC is committed to finding innovative ways to bring the arts to Pleasanton and support new and existing artists and art groups," she said.

Two new PCAC ventures aimed at bringing the arts to the community are the Arts Encounter Booth adjacent to the Pleasanton Farmers Market, and the upcoming Chalk Art Festival in 2013.

For more information about the YEA award program or PCAC, visit


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