Hundreds of students, parents and teachers gathered in downtown Los Angeles for the third annual Center Theatre Group College & Career Fair for the Arts. From free headshots and workshops to college counseling and a makeup station, the fair featured just about everything young artists could ask for.
Over 30 colleges, universities and community organizations attended the day’s festivities. After checking in at 9:30 a.m., the first 100 pre-registered young artists had an opportunity to sign up for headshots. Four workshops, the first kicking off at 10 a.m., included topics such as applying for college, financing school, choosing an audition monologue and mapping out future aspirations.
“This event has been amazing,” high school junior Daniel Velez said. “There are so many colleges here teaching us information that’s so valuable.”
Velez, an actor from the Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in Los Angeles, was one of 12 regional finalists for Center Theatre Group’s August Wilson Monologue Competition.
The first two workshops focused on applying and paying for college, topics UCLA Ph.D. student Kimberly Welch specializes in.
“I tell students to find something their passionate in, and to stay open to those passions changing,” Welch said.
Welch, who studies in the Theatre Performances program at UCLA, taught a personal statement workshop and also led some college counseling.
“I used to be very afraid about the idea of going to college, but once I did some tours I realized the feel I want in a school,” high school junior Vic Brown said.
Brown, whose dream school is Swarthmore College, is part of Center Theatre Group’s student ambassador program.
The ambassadors are with the company for eight months, giving them an opportunity to build confidence and gain an ability to solve problems quickly.
“We are working on a youth summit that will be in May, based on people’s experiences in theater,” Brown said. “It will revolve around the American dream and how it has an impact on our future.”
In between student-filled college discussions, a financing for parents workshop was held. Tips about the costs surrounding a student’s education were offered, a presentation led by Director of Academic & Student Services at the USC School of Dramatic Arts, Sergio Ramirez.
Students also had the opportunity to attend a workshop completely focused on selecting an audition monologue, a task that can be just as tricky as picking the right college for young artists. To round out the workshops, 20 students were able to plan for the future in a dialogue all about their future goals, visions and dreams.
Outdoors, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 33 local organizations, colleges and universities led a resource fair for students and their parents. “I really enjoy seeing their enthusiasm,” Bernardo Solano, a professor from Cal Poly Pomona said. “They realize they can affect people through their work, which is fantastic.”
In the midst of multiple events, students also had the choice to speak one-on-one with college counselors and artists.
“The biggest advice I give to students is to do your research,” independent educational consultant Baillie Gerstein said. “You may not know what you want to study, but that’s perfectly okay. It’s equally as much your choice, and not just whether they accept you, but if you accept them.”
Gerstein works primarily with high school students pursuing performance and musical theatre, helping them with their artistic and academic components. “I really believe in outreach and helping students,” she added.
Professional actors, designers, directors, playwrights and stage managers were all present throughout the day as well, connecting with young artists who aspire to become successful storytellers.
“I’ve been telling students to seek out other working artists they are excited by,” local artist Heather Graff said. “Every artist likes to mentor and share their work, especially with the youth.”
“For Center Theater Group, this event is central to our educational efforts and outreach,” Programming Manager for Emerging Artists and Arts Professionals Felipe M. Sanchez said. “We are invested in empowering the next generation of artists and arts professionals.”
Through their program models, Center Theatre Group provides artistic training, professional development and social spaces for students and teachers. A nonprofit, the theatre company teaches the important role artists play in society.