Austin Students Recognized as Texas Young Masters

Photography courtesy of Chris Caselli.

2018 TYM Recipients

2018 TYM Recipients

The 2018 Texas Young Masters Awards took place this week on Monday, April 16, at Austin’s ZACH Theatre. Hosted by honorary chair First Lady Cecilia Abbott, the ceremony honored 15 Texas students with $10,000 multi-year grants to enhance and build their professional artistic studies and provide access to developmental opportunities before college.

(LtoR) Gary Gibbs, Heidi Marquez Smith, Cecilia Abbott, Laura Matz

(LtoR) Gary Gibbs, Heidi Marquez Smith, Cecilia Abbott, Laura Matz

Texas Young Masters is a joint initiative between the Texas Cultural Trust (TCT) and Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) that recognizes excellence in Texas’ brightest 8th through 11th graders who excel in music, theater, dance, visual arts, and literary arts.

Dallas Black Dance Theatre

Dallas Black Dance Theatre

The biennial event was attended by prominent guests from the Texas arts community. The evening featured a discussion about the importance of art led by Texas artist Cruz Ortiz with Katie Rose Pipkin, 2008 Young Master recipient for visual arts, as well as performances by GRAMMY award-winning choral ensemble Conspirare, who sang an original composition by Allen Robertson, members of Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and Texas’ legendary singer-songwriter and guitarist Joe Ely.

“More than 300 guests joined us in celebrating the future of the arts in Texas as we honored the 2018 class of Texas Young Masters,” said Heidi Marquez Smith, Texas Cultural Trust Executive Director. “Through this program, we recognize exceptional students and offer them opportunity to enhance their artistic study before entering college at prestigious educational programs in Texas and beyond.”  


The Texas Cultural Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to be the leading voice for the arts in education, advocacy, and economic impact in Texas, spotlighting the artistic excellence of our state. This mission is achieved through the Trust’s five initiatives that quantify, promote, and advance the investment in the creative future of Texas. Programs of the Texas Cultural Trust include Art Can, Texas Medal of Arts Awards, Texas Young Masters, Arts & Digital Literacy, and Texas Women for the Arts. For more information about the Texas Cultural Trust, please visit Community support to underwrite Texas Young Masters scholarship grants is also being received through the Trust’s online fundraising campaign. To support, please visit


The mission of the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) is to advance our state economically and culturally by investing in a creative Texas. TCA supports a diverse and innovative arts community in Texas, throughout the nation and internationally by providing resources to enhance economic development, arts education, cultural tourism and artist sustainability initiatives. For more information on TCA and its programs, please visit


The 2018 Young Masters program was made possible through the generous support of Dr. Ernest and Sarah Butler, Texas Women for the Arts, The SermoonJoy Organization, Neiman Marcus, Wayne Fisher, Jeanne and Mickey Klein, Judy and Kirk Robison, Alturas Foundation, Covert Auto Groups, Kathleen and Ben Keating, Karen and Charles Matthews, Locke Lord LLP, and RWM Foundation.


Texas Cultural Trust Presents 2016 Class of Texas Young Masters, ZACH Theatre, TONIGHT!

Featuring performances by Tosca String Quartet, The Peterson Brothers, Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy Chorus

 Special presentations by honorary chair First Lady Cecilia Abbott & Special Guest Holland Taylor

The Texas Cultural Trust (TCT) is pleased to present the 2016 Texas Young Masters event, on April 25th at ZACH Theatre with honorary chair First Lady Cecilia Abbott and special guest Holland Taylor.  The Texas Young Masters is a joint initiative with the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) awarding 8th through 11th grade students scholarship grants of $5,000 a year for two years, and recognizing artistic excellence in students across all artistic disciplines – from dance, literary arts, and media arts/film, to music, theater, musical theater, and visual arts.  Since its inception in 2002, the TCT and TCA have given 263 grants to 124 previous Young Masters, awarding $707,500 to aspiring artists from across the state. Tickets on sale soon.  For more information, visit

The 2016 Class of Texas Young Masters will be awarded at an award ceremony and star-studded concert, with an Opening Reception at 6:00 pm, and Awards Ceremony at 7:00 pm.  The Opening Reception will feature a Young Masters Lounge, complete with photo booth, signature “mock-tail,” and special performance by 2004 Young Master and violin virtuoso, Charles Yang.  Described by the Boston Globe as one who “plays classical violin with the charisma of a rock star,” Yang started studying violin while a young child in Austin, and has gone on to international acclaim.  He will also be performing during the show, in collaboration with 2014 Young Master and Carnatic percussionist Jay Appaji.

Multi-GRAMMY award winner and Trust board member Ray Benson will emcee the Young Masters ceremony, along with Majic 95.5 afternoon drive personality Juliet Brandon.  The show will open with Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy chorus.  As the first Elementary Fine Arts Academy in Austin IDS, Blackshear used the arts to help increase enrollment by 20% and was recently named a National Blue Ribbon School.  Austin’s Tosca String Quartet will also perform during the ceremony.  Internationally known for their “Tango Nuevo” performances, the quartet has enjoyed crossover success by performing and/or recording with such artists as Arcade Fire, Spoon, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Schneider, and on the soundtrack to the arthouse classic Waking Life by Richard Linklater.  The evening will come to a close with a rousing performance by local favorites, The Peterson Brothers Band.  Thanks to inspiration from the legends of the past and present, The Brothers are helping keep the Blues alive, even with one still in high school and the other just starting college.  In addition to their ever growing list of touring dates, including a Monday night residency at Austin’s renowned Continental Club, Glenn and Alex Peterson have been honored by the Austin Chronicle Music Awards, and were twice voted the Best Band in Bastrop County, in addition to having received accolades from The Dallas Examiner and The San Antonio Express-News.

The evening will also feature performances by previous Young Masters, including: Jared Brown, 2014 Young Master in Dance; Morgan Starr,  2010 Young Master in Dance; Jay Appaji, 2014 Young Master in Music; and violinist, Charles Yang.  Honorary Chair, First Lady Cecilia Abbott will present the medals to the 2016 Class of Young Masters.  Holland Taylor, EMMY winning actress, will introduce the Young Masters in Theatre/Musical Theatre.  Taylor is currently starring in Ann, a one-woman portrait of the legendary governor of Texas, for which she has been nominated for a Tony Award.  Ann is currently running at ZACH Theatre.

The Young Masters program is made possible through the generous support of the following Program Founders:

AT&T Foundation, Anheuser Busch Foundation, Applied Materials, BNSF Railway, The Honorable David Dewhurst, Emerson Electric, Mrs. Gene Jones, Mr. George Mitchell, Mrs. W.D. Noel, Plum Foundation, Ray C. Fish Foundation, Raytheon.

Special Thanks to our Scholarship Underwriters:

Dr. and Mrs. Ernest Butler; Texas Women for the Arts; ExxonMobil; Neiman Marcus; the Scurlock Foundation; Lee Bailey, Friends of Jesùs Moroles; Dian Graves Owen Foundation, Guillermo Nicolas and Judy Robison.

For more information on the Texas Young Masters program, visit