Oliver and panel to discuss student artist scholarships

Each June, about 300 students from around the world converge on Chautauqua Institution’s Schools of Fine and Performing Arts.

They join the School of Art, School of Dance, Instrumental Program (Music School Festival Orchestra), Piano Program, the Chautauqua Theater Company’s Conservatory and Voice Program. Almost all receive financial support.

The Chautauqua Women’s Club has provided scholarships for nearly a fifth of these students.

At 9:15 a.m. Thursday at the Women’s Club House, Judy Oliver will convene a panel to discuss “How CWC Scholarships Help: Real Life Stories of Performing Arts Students at Chautauqua,” as part of the Chautauqua Speaks series.

In addition to Oliver, who has headed the CWC’s Scholarship Committee for several years, the panel will be composed of Sarah Malinoski-Umberger, Chautauqua’s coordinator of student services, and three of the 56 students the CWC is supporting.

Jessica Ko is one of 13 actors in the CTC conservatory. She is a rising senior in the Brown University/Trinity Reps’ Graduate Acting Program in Providence, Rhode Island.

Earlier this month, Ko played Mrs. Soames in Our Town and appeared in The Engine of Our Ruin, part of CTC’s New Play Workshop. In mid-August, she will perform in Henry V.

Christine Wu began studying the piano at age 5, and is part of the five-week Piano Program. She is pursuing a Master of Music from the Juilliard School, where she received her Bachelor of Music last year.

Recently, she received the Alice and Arthur Nagle Award in the 2014 Washington International Competition for Piano.

Tyler Zimmerman entered the Settlement Music School when he was 3, and is now a bass-baritone in the Voice Program. At age 15, he participated on Saturdays in Juilliard’s Pre-College Division. He completed his undergraduate studies and is also pursuing his master’s in voice/opera at Juilliard.

At Chautauqua this summer, he has performed in Handel’s opera Ariodante. On Aug. 10, he will sing in La bohème, which will be staged in the Amphitheater.

As head of the Scholarship Committee, which was established circa 1935, Oliver said her biggest challenge is raising the funds.

The three largest sources of the Women’s Club’s scholarship funding are private donations (about two-thirds of the total), recital collection baskets, and the women who participate in the Artists at the Market. The latter generously donate 25 percent of their profits for scholarships.

“A lot of people have been giving the same amount for years,” Oliver said. “When you hit a high, you think the next year will be the same, but it’s not. We‘re always asking our friends for money. Each April we give the administration the money, and they figure out who gets it.”

Malinoski-Umberger said there’s a set scholarship budget for each department. There are need-based and merit-based scholarships. If a scholarship offer isn’t enough, she said, students can appeal for more money — sometimes they get it, sometimes they don’t.

“Our thing is the students,” Oliver said. “We really enjoy getting to know them and following their progress. We also enjoy their feedback. Many times they send a thank you note to their donors, and they often come through me first.”