Texas Nonprofit Theatres, Inc Cancels 25th Annual Youth Conferece

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Texas Nonprofit Theatres, Inc Cancels 25th Annual Youth Conferece

TNT Executive Director, Dennis Yslas, announced Monday, April 19, 2020, that the 25th Annual TNT Youth Conference has been cancelled. The event was scheduled to take place in the Jerry Fay Wilhelm Performing Arts Center in Bastrop, TX on June 10 - 13, 2020.

The Youth Conference is the single biggest event for TNT, with an attendance average of 500 in the last few years. The event gathers youth theatre troupes from across the state to perform, in a non competitive environment, a 60 minute selection of a play or musical of their choosing. Some of the shows are student directed and designed. Along with the performance element of the conference, students attend workshops led by theatre professionals from across the state. Workshop subjects vary from Junior and Senior students attending college audition prep workshops to younger students attending improvisation for the young actor workshops. The Youth Conference has been held across the state - Irving, Baytown, Odessa and Boerne to name a few.

The TNT Youth Conference Commission met this week to discuss options - keeping the safety of the attendees at the forefront of the lengthy discussion. With the uncertainty of how Texas will move forward in the near and distant future the Commission thought it best to cancel the conference for this year.

The TNT Youth Conference Commission is comprised of theatre leaders from across the state led by Chairperson - M.A. Sterling from Brazos Valley TROUPE - Bryan/ College Station. Members of the Commission represent Bastrop, New Braunfels, Baytown, Blooming Grove, Troupe and Odessa.

Executive Director, Dennis Yslas, said "This is one of the most difficult decisions we've had to make. We know that students are ready to gather and perform but with the uncertainty of the current COVID-19 situation the safety of attending students is paramount. Our member theatres are struggling to survive and keep staff employed. Some theatres have reallocated funds for the Youth Conference to pay for staff. Cancelling the Youth Conference also allows theatres to focus their efforts on recovery. One of the elements of the conference is an "Aging Out" Ceremony. Where seniors, who just graduated, are celebrated as they are no longer eligible to perform. Across our country graduating seniors are missing Proms and Graduation Ceremonies because of this pandemic. We are looking for a way to celebrate our graduating seniors - some who have been attending Youth Conference for 10 years. These types of accomplishments cannot go unrecognized - we will just have to get creative in the celebration. Even though this decision is hard we are looking forward to celebrating our 25th Youth Conference in 2021."

The 25th Annual Youth Conference is scheduled to be held in Bastrop, June 9 - 12, 2021.

This is a very difficult time for our industry and we understand you and your theatre are also struggling to get things back on track. No one knows what the new normal will be but we are hoping to keep our traditions going and come back for the 25th Annual Youth Conference in 2021 bigger and better than ever.


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