Celebrating Youth Artists

Today begins the annual Michigan Youth Arts Festival on the campus of Western Michigan University. I love it.

From a pool of 250,000+ high school artists statewide, 1,000 are selected on the basis of their artistry and polish to experience a weekend of arts across all disciplines.

Their artistic maturity is, somehow, not the point. They will go on with their lives; many won’t pursue artistic careers, and even those who do will forget the Mendelssohn concerto they performed there, will lose the short film they premiered, their pottery will smash or be sold for college book money. In not too many years they won’t remember their three-piece choral program, let alone the baritone part.

What these students will carry with them for their entire lives is the memory that they worked hard, created art, and became part of a community of artists.

Every year at the opening Gala Concert, I am blown away by the professionalism of these remarkable high school students. “Look what we can do!” I say, again and again.

It is my hope that they say the same to themselves: look at the potential I have inside of me.

It can’t help but influence their future aspirations.