YoungArts 35th Anniversary Gala Honors Rosie Perez, Robert Wilson and Tony Yazbeck Tonight

National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) kicks off its 35th anniversary year with National YoungArts Week, the organization's signature program welcoming approximately 170 YoungArts Finalists to Miami. A life-changing experience that supports young artists (ages 15 - 18 years or grades 10 - 12) in the visual, literary, performing and design arts, this program fosters interdisciplinary collaboration and offers guidance to prepare for a career in the arts. Throughout the week, these talented young artists will work with esteemed master teachers and mentors including MacArthur Genius Tarell McCraney, Hip Hop feminist writer Joan Morgan, The Royal Ballet of London's Sara Lamb, celebrated contemporary visual artist Jose Parla, and Academy Award winning filmmaker Doug Blush, among others.

National YoungArts Week will culminate with the organization's largest annual fundraiser, the YoungArts Backyard Ball Performance and Gala, tonight, January 9, presented by MaxMara and emceed by Tony and Grammy Award-winning actor, singer and director, YoungArts Alumnus Billy Porter (1987 Winner in Theater). During the event, YoungArts will honor director and actress Rosie Perez and director Robert Wilson with the Arison Award, as well as performer, Tony Award nominee, YoungArts Master Teacher and 1997 YoungArts Winner in Theater Tony Yazbeck with the Arison Alumni Award, for their outstanding contributions and indelible impact on the arts.

Co-chaired by Armando and Margarita Codina and Tracey and Bruce Berkowitz with support from the 35th Anniversary Committee chaired by Sarah Arison, the celebratory evening will honor all 2016 YoungArts Winners and include a series of performance vignettes, directed by Yazbeck, featuring YoungArts alumni including Desmond Richardson (1986 Winner in Dance and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts), Dave Eggar (1987 Winner in Music and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts), India Carney (2011 Winner in Theater, Voice and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts), Andrew Nemr (1997 Winner in Dance), Jake Goldbas (2007 Winner in Jazz), Pascal Le Boeuf (2004 Winner in Jazz and Music) and Riley O'Flynn (2014 Winner in Dance).

"For 35 years, YoungArts has been offering emerging artists the support and encouragement they need to follow their dreams of becoming professional artists. During this time, we have developed a strong alumni network of more than 20,000 artists, many of whom value the encouragement they received at a young age so much so that they are now paying it forward as YoungArts master teachers," stated Lisa Leone, Vice President of Artistic Programs for YoungArts. "I am thrilled to celebrate the creativity, ingenuity and accomplishments of our remarkable YoungArts Winners and Alumni, and to honor Rosie Perez, Robert Wilson and Tony Yazbeck for providing such shining examples of how to inspire young talent."

Throughout National YoungArts Week, YoungArts Finalists will share their talents with the public at New World Center and the YoungArts Campus. With Performance Sponsor SunTrust, the full schedule follows below and can also be found online at

For more information about the Backyard Ball Performance and Gala, or to purchase tickets, visit

The National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) was established in 1981 by Lin and Ted Arison to identify and support the next generation of artists in the visual, literary, design and performing arts; assist them at critical junctures in their educational and professional development; and raise appreciation for the arts in American society. Each year, there are approximately 11,000 applications to YoungArts from 15-18 year old (or grades 10-12) artists, and from these, approximately 800 winners are selected.

YoungArts Winners work with renowned mentors, such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Plácido Domingo, Frank Gehry, Jeff Koons, Wynton Marsalis, Robert Redford, Rebecca Walker and Bruce Weber; receive cash awards of up to $10,000; gain access to significant scholarships; become eligible for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts; and perform and exhibit their work at some of the nation's leading cultural institutions, including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), The Museum of Modern Art (New York) and New World Center (Miami). YoungArts Winners also become part of the strong YoungArts alumni network artists, which offers them additional opportunities throughout their careers.

YoungArts alumni who have gone on to become leading professionals in their fields include actresses Anna Gunn, Viola Davis, and Kerry Washington; Broadway stars Raúl Esparza, Andrew Rannells and Billy Porter; recording artists Josh Groban, Chris Young and Judith Hill; Metropolitan Opera star Eric Owens; musicians Terence Blanchard, Gerald Clayton and Jennifer Koh; leading choreographer Desmond Richardson; visual artists Daniel Arsham and Hernan Bas; internationally acclaimed multimedia artist Doug Aitken; television writer, producer, and director Jenji Kohan; New York Times bestselling author Sam Lipsyte; and Academy Award winning filmmaker Doug Blush.

For more information, visit, or To watch a brief video about YoungArts, click here.

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