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A wealth of talent

"What does a little encouragement cost?For Bainbridge Music and Arts, about $300,000.Over the past 32 years, that's what the all-volunteer nonprofit organization has paid out in scholarships and awards, enabling more than 2,000 middle and high school students to pursue training in dance, drama, music, creative writing, and mixed-media art (painting, sculpture, jewelry, photography, paper making).And how the program has grown!Because of the generosity of donors and other arts organizations, says BMA president Caryl Grosch, we've been able to increase the amount we give to the kids.In 1970, BMA had 10 applicants and handed out $500. In 1999, there were 150 applicants, 85 winners, and the organization gave out more than $12,000.This year, more than $14,000 will go to support the students' efforts.The program is extensive, offering first, second and third place scholarships to middle school students in three music categories, four for high schoolers. There are three categories and two age levels for dance scholarships, while only three drama scholarships are available. Scholarship money is paid directly to the instructor or institution.Awards, on the other hand, provide money directly to the students who come in first, second or third in each of 12 categories for art and four categories for creative writing.Local organizations such as Bainbridge Chorale and Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council provide individual scholarships and awards through BMA.Behind all the numbers and dollars are the people who raise the money and the youngsters who benefit.For parent Cathy Tarbill, the most satisfying element is the nurturing BMA members provide the students year 'round. They'll stop the kids in the street or the market and offer encouragement, says Tarbill, whose sons Rick and Joey won scholarships this year.The recognition was so important, recalls Ross Yearsley, 37, who received BMA scholarships for both piano and dance during his high school years and went on to a career in ballet.It's important to encourage the arts for kids, adds Yearsley, who will retire from the Pacific Northwest Ballet after this season. It can be a meaningful part of their life even if it doesn't become their career.The financial support gives the kids a great incentive to develop and continue their interest in the arts, notes Jane Crane, whose son Andy won first place with a jazz piece he wrote and performed on upright bass, an instrument he began playing only three months ago.Crane, who describes herself as a bragging parent, relates this year's experience: We just sat there sweating bullets, because he brought such different music to this classical venue.Another jazz player, Daniel Davies, appreciates that he will be able to attend a much anticipated summer workshop because of the second place scholarship he won.Crane credits the organization for supporting local teachers. To me the wonderful thing about it is the money goes straight to the instructor, she says. It validates the people who work with the kids.Says Tarbill: I can't say enough about their encouragement and financial support. It means everything to these kids. Tarbill's son Rick is well known on the island, this year serving as concertmaster for the Bainbridge Orchestra.The music, drama and dance competitions are held each year in February and March, while the art and creative writing competitions happen in late spring, with winners announced at the high school awards ceremony.This year's first place winners in music, dance and drama will perform in a special recital at 7 p.m. April 9 at the Playhouse. Admission is free, although donations are encouraged.It's all very magical, enthuses Jane Crane. You should see these kids."

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