“Performing arts” is a broad term that loosely refers to any creative activity that is presented to an audience. The category covers a wide variety of fields, from the conventional music, theatre, and dance to the more unusual circus performance, improvisation, film and television, and so on.
Any dancer, actor/actress, musician, or other type of performer can consider themselves part of the performing arts, along with behind-the-scenes personnel like directors, producers, and stage crew. Thus, you don’t necessarily have to be a performer to be in the performing arts; in fact, these other roles are incredibly valuable, as they make the entire production possible.
If you’re a high school student interested in pursuing the Performing Arts as a hobby or a career, there are a number of ways that you can get involved. Many high schools have elective courses in the performing arts such as theatre, orchestra, band, and dance. Sometimes, joining these courses can even fulfill the arts or physical education requirements at your high school.
If these courses are not available at your school or they don’t fit into your schedule, there may be some clubs or organizations at your school that involve the performing arts. Maybe your school has a Drama Club, Film Club, or other performing arts organization that you can join.
If neither of those options is available to you, you can either start your own club or organization at your school or look to your community for opportunities to pursue the performing arts such as local theatre groups, classes at a community center, or dance schools close to you. You’ll get to do something you enjoy, and colleges will appreciate that you took the initiative to create and seek out extracurricular opportunities.
As is the case with any other extracurricular activity, sustained involvement in the performing arts as a high school student is a signal to colleges that you possess qualities that they seek in a prospective student such as dedication, responsibility, leadership, skill, and passion for a specific field. Furthermore, many performing arts opportunities in high school are competitive, giving you the chance to win awards to put on your college resume.
For further information on awards and quantifying your achievements in the Performing Arts, see How to Quantify Your Achievements in the Visual and Performing Arts.
Moreover, students who get involved in the performing arts are eligible for a wide variety of niche scholarships. Countless companies and foundations offer merit-based scholarships to high school students in order to foster their development in the performing arts and help them pay for college.
If these performing arts scholarship opportunities interest you, keep reading. We at CollegeVine have compiled a brief list of scholarships available to high school performing arts students. See which ones you qualify for, and try applying—you could earn quite a bit of money to help with your future college costs.
The Gordon Hay Scholarship
Every year, Blumenthal Performing Arts awards a $5,000 scholarship to a graduating high school senior in the Charlotte, NC region who has demonstrated personal and scholarly excellence, community engagement, and plans to pursue a career in a non-performance area of the performing arts. This includes, but is not limited to, music composition, orchestration, choreography, playwriting, set design, costume design, and stage management.
Although the scholarship is merit-based, special consideration will be given to those who can demonstrate financial need.
If these criteria apply to you, check out the scholarship website for more detailed information and to apply.
Vectorworks Design Scholarship
For students interested in pursuing a design-related field in college, this is the scholarship for you. The Vectorworks Design Scholarship offers a $3,000 scholarship to multiple students across the globe. In addition, all Vectorworks Design Scholarships recipients automatically compete for the Richard Diehl Award, an additional $7,000 given to the best overall submission.
In order to qualify for this scholarship, you must be enrolled in or accepted to undergraduate or graduate studies at an accredited college or university and pursuing a design-related degree. This includes degrees like architecture, interior design, graphic design, event planning, and more.
For more information and to apply, to see the Vectorworks Design Scholarship website.
Princess Grace Awards
The Princess Grace Awards program specifically targets emerging dancers, theatre performers, and film artists. This program provides not only scholarships but also apprenticeships and fellowships to give artists the financial support and encouragement they need to develop their talent.
In order to apply, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and be nominated by a school department chair/dean, company artistic director, or other specified nominating organization. Self-nominations are not allowed.
The application is online and varies depending on what form of art you specialize in—Playwriting, Theatre, Dance Performance, Choreography, or Film. For more information, visit the Princess Grace Foundation’s Website.
Eugenia Vellner Fischer Award for the Performing Arts
The Miss America Foundation has a scholarship opportunity for anyone who is planning to pursue a degree in the performing arts and has competed in the Miss America system at the local, state, or national level after 1998. The scholarship can be used for any undergraduate or graduate study and is applicable at any post-secondary institution.
In order to apply, you will need to have recommendation letters, essays, and a transcript handy. You may also need proof of enrollment at a college or university and a demonstration of financial need.
To learn how to apply, see the Miss America Foundation website.
BMI Foundation Scholarship Program
This is a comprehensive award and scholarship program provided by the BMI Foundation for any worthy and talented musician. They offer awards, scholarships, prizes, and commissions for songwriters, film and television musicians, composers, classical conductors, and many others.
There are twenty different awards and scholarships you can apply for through the BMI Foundation, and each one has separate eligibility requirements, application requirements, and deadlines. Visit the BMI Foundation website to browse all the available programs and see which ones you qualify for.
If you’re looking for further help with your scholarship and college application process, check out our College Application Guidance Program. We can help you organize your college planning and guide you through the admissions process.
If you are aspiring to pursue your passion to act, direct, produce, write, sing, or design sets on the big stage, then it is important to realize that there are many organizations delivering scholarships for theatre majors to make these dreams a reality.
Contrary to popular belief, theatre can become much more than just a hobby and lead to an exciting career in the entertainment industry. Although the process of landing a theatre gig can be incredibly grueling and careers in theatre are rarely associated with an immediate financial upside, theatre majors usually choose this field based on an overwhelming passion for the art form.
Luckily, the following are 25 of the best scholarships that provide the financial backing needed for theatre majors to make their way into the limelight.
1. American Theatre Organ Society Scholarship Program
Deadline: April 15th
Annually, the American Theatre Organ Society Scholarship Program is open to amateur young organists between the ages of 13 and 27 who are studying with a professional theatre organ teacher and regularly perform on the theatre organ for pay before the general public. In order to qualify for up to $1,500, theatre organ students must be nominated by a professional member, submit an essay, and agree to appear as a featured young organist at any ATOS convention.
American Theatre Organ Society Scholarship Program
2175 North Irwin St.
Indianapolis, IN 46219
2. Archibald Rutledge Scholarship for the Arts
Deadline: February 7th
Named in honor of South Carolina’s first poet laureate, the Archibald Rutledge Scholarship for the Arts is granted annually for $2,000 to graduating high school seniors who will be attending a college or university within South Carolina to major in one of the five arts disciplines, including creative writing, dance, music, theatre, or visual arts. Qualified theatre students must submit an original one-act play with a performance time ranging between ten and fifteen minutes.
Archibald Rutledge Scholarship for the Arts
1429 Senate St. Suite 607-B
Columbia, SC 29201
3. Bob and Marti Fowler Future Theatre Educator Scholarship
Deadline: April 1st
Through the Educational Theatre Association, the Bob and Marti Fowler Future Theatre Educator Scholarship is awarded for $1,000 annually to an outstanding college student who is pursuing a theatre degree at an approved U.S. institution full-time. Recipients must demonstrate leadership abilities, strong moral character, academic promise, organizational skills, experience in different aspects of theatre, and an excellent work ethic for being a member of a theatre production team.
Bob and Marti Fowler Future Theatre Educator Scholarship
2343 Auburn Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45219
4. Cynthia Poulson Memorial Theatre Scholarship
Deadline: February 22nd
At the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, the Peck School of the Arts offers the Cynthia Poulson Memorial Theatre Scholarship for $1,000 and a one-year subscription to the New York Times to a currently enrolled full-time undergraduate theatre major with freshman, sophomore, or junior-level standing. Eligible candidates must show high achievement with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher and be exceptionally active in serving the department.
Cynthia Poulson Memorial Theatre Scholarship
2400 East Kenwood Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53211
5. Disney Diversity Theatre Arts Scholarship
Deadline: April 15th
Each year, the Disney Diversity Theatre Arts Scholarship is offered to first-year full-time undergraduate minority theatre majors at the University of Central Florida who are pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Theatre Studies, Stage Management, Musical Theatre, or Acting. Qualified candidates should be committed to pursuing a professional career in theatre, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, and document active involvement in theatre productions.
Disney Diversity Theatre Arts Scholarship
P.O. Box 162372
Orlando, FL 32816
6. D.J. and Rose Nidetz Scholarship
Deadline: April 15th
In partnership with the Legacy Foundation, the Northwest Indiana Excellence in Theatre Foundation has established the D.J. and Rose Nidetz Scholarship to provide $1,000 to residents of Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties who can provide proof of having worked in or on a production with one of the foundation’s member theatres. Applicants must be accepted for enrollment in an undergraduate degree program with a major in performing arts, theatrical design, dramatic arts, fine arts, music, or theatre arts.
D.J. and Rose Nidetz Scholarship
1000 East 80th Place Suite 402
Merrillville, IN 46410
7. Florence Marro Gallagher Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: February 2nd
Within the Department of Theatre Arts at Ithaca College, the Florence Marro Gallagher Memorial Scholarship is presented annually for $1,500 to a full-time deserving and committed undergraduate student who has declared a major in acting, drama, musical theatre, theatre arts management, or theatrical production arts. Preference will be given to students who demonstrate financial need, have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, and are actively involved in professional development activities.
Florence Marro Gallagher Memorial Scholarship
953 Danby Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850
8. Fox Chapel Area Education Scholarship Fund
Deadline: March 16th
Sponsored by the Pittsburgh Foundation, the Fox Chapel Area Education Scholarship Fund is available for graduating high school seniors in Pittsburgh who are interested in continuing their education with a major in the fine arts, including art, music, drama, communications, theatre, and/or dance. Eligible applicants will demonstrate financial need, be accepted into a two or four-year U.S. college, maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and participate in art-related activities.
Fox Chapel Area Education Scholarship Fund
Five PPG Place Suite 250
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
9. Grand Rapids Combined Theatre Scholarships
Deadline: April 1st
Ranging in value from $1,000 to $3,000, the Grand Rapids Combined Theatre Scholarships are distributed through the Grand Rapids Community Foundation for theatre majors enrolled full-time in an accredited college or training program who have experience in any of the Grand Rapids area community theatre venues. Applicants must attach a current resume, three current letters of recommendation, and a two-page essay on short and long-term theatre career goals.
Grand Rapids Combined Theatre Scholarships
185 Oakes St. SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
10. Hatch-Billops Theatre Arts Scholarship Fund
Deadline: March 19th
At the University of Iowa, the Hatch-Billops Theatre Arts Scholarship Fund awards up to $1,300 annually to theatre majors of African American or Caribbean descent, with preference given to descendents of the Middle Passage who were born in the United States or Caribbean. Candidates must be pursuing a B.A. in Theatre Arts, exhibit talent and ambition in one or more areas of theatre production, and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater.
Hatch-Billops Theatre Arts Scholarship Fund
107 Theatre Building
Iowa City, IA 52242
11. Hope College Distinguished Artist Awards in Theatre
Deadline: February 15th
Annually, Hope College offers up to sixty Distinguished Artist Award (DAA) scholarships for $2,500 towards tuition costs to incoming and returning students with strong academic records as well as outstanding creative abilities in art, dance, music, creative writing, or theatre. While theatre majors must complete an audition and/or design-technical portfolio presentation, students unable to attend on-campus auditions can contact the department for setting up an alternative audition date or videotaped audition.
Hope College Distinguished Artist Awards in Theatre
141 East 12th St.
Holland, MI 49422
12. Irene Ryan Foundation Acting Scholarship
With the goal of recognizing, honoring, and providing financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education in the theatre arts, the Kennedy Center offers the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship for $2,500 to actors who advance to the final round of competition in the annual national festival in Washington, D.C. Auditions will be evaluated based on the ability to make bold acting choices, mastery of an expressive vocal and physical instrument, clear understanding of text, facility with language, and demonstration of range.
Irene Ryan Foundation Acting Scholarship
2700 F St. NW
Washington, DC 20566
13. John L. Dales Scholarship Competition
Deadline: March 15th
Established in 1973 by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation in honor of its long-time Executive Secretary who pioneered a series of concessions from major movie studios to increase compensation for working actors, the John L. Dales Scholarship Competition has awarded more than $6 million dollars to more than 1,632 members for study in higher education. Recipients must be experienced members who need further education in theatre at a U.S. accredited university, college, junior college, or trade/vocational school.
John L. Dales Scholarship Competition
5757 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 124
Los Angeles, CA 90036
14. Joseph Collins Foundation Scholarship
Deadline: June 1st
Administered through the American Psychological Association (APA), the Joseph Collins Foundation Scholarship awards up to $10,000 per year to medical students in their second, third, or fourth year who are in the top half of their class and intend to specialize in neurology, psychiatry, or general practice. Candidates must demonstrate interest in cultural and theatre pursuits outside of medicine, exhibit financial need, and give evidence of good moral character.
Related Resource: Top 10 Online Psychology Degree Programs
Joseph Collins Foundation Scholarship
750 First St. NE
Washington, DC 20002
15. Las Casas Performing Arts Scholarship Program
Deadline: February 17th
The Las Casas Performing Arts Scholarship Program is designed to award up to $5,000 in financial assistance to deserving college-bound graduating high school seniors who are seeking to further their education and experience in the disciplines of theatre acting, musical theatre singing, and/or dancing. Qualified applicants must be naturalized U.S. citizens, be residents of Texas, be accepted into an accredited four-year institution, and submit two 500-word essays.
Las Casas Performing Arts Scholarship Program
222 East Houston St. Suite 640
San Antonio, TX 78205
16. Linda P. Wise Theatrical Performance Scholarship
Deadline: January 11th
Created by the Georgia Thespians Theatre Association in honor of a legendary director, teacher, and friend to actors throughout the state, the Linda P. Wise Theatrical Performance Scholarship will grant $2,000 annually to a student member who will be pursuing a theatre major at an accredited state institution full-time. Applicants must demonstrate outstanding talent through the audition and the outline resume of roles performed through their high school years.
Linda P. Wise Theatrical Performance Scholarship
2288 East Main St.
Snellville, GA 30078
17. M. Josephine O’Neil Arts Award Scholarship
Deadline: February 1st
Sponsored by the Illinois state chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, the M. Josephine O’Neil Arts Award Scholarship offers up to $6,000 to female Illinois residents who are currently enrolled in their sophomore or junior year at an accredited four-year college or university with a major in music, visual arts, dance, or theatre arts. Applicants must submit an official college transcript, two letters of recommendation, a personal essay on achievements in the arts, and at least one sample of their artistic work.
M. Josephine O’Neil Arts Award Scholarship
139 Barrington Lane
East Peoria, IL 61550-9438
18. Melba Day Sparks Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: March 6th
As an affiliate of the Educational Theatre Association, the Oregon Thespians present the Melba Day Sparks Memorial Scholarship to current graduating high school seniors in the state who have been inducted into the International Thespian Society and are planning to continue their theatre-related education at the university level. Applicants must have declared a major in theatre, be in good standing with their troupe, and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.
Melba Day Sparks Memorial Scholarship
21945 NW Wagon Way
Hillsboro, OR 97124
19. New Theatre Guild Scholarship Endowment Fund
Administered through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, the New Theatre Guild Scholarship Endowment Fund has been created to provide annual awards for both undergraduate and graduate students who will be majoring in theatre at the University of Kansas, University of Central Missouri, or University of Missouri. Candidates must be accepted in an accredited theatrical arts program with good academic standing and financial need.
New Theatre Guild Scholarship Endowment Fund
1055 Broadway St. Suite 130
Kansas City, MO 64105
20. Ohio Community Theatre Association Scholarship
Deadline: March 1st
At the annual conference each year, the Ohio Community Theatre Association presents a scholarship for up to $2,000 to a deserving student member or a child of a community theatre member who has been accepted into an accredited post-secondary program with a major related to the theatrical or performing arts. Candidates should submit a transcript, two letters of recommendation, and a one-page paper on future goals for involving theatre in their life.
Ohio Community Theatre Association Scholarship
464 Sherwood Downs Road S
Newark, OH 43055
21. Princess Grace Foundation Theatre Scholarships
Deadline: April 30th
As a national program dedicated to assisting emerging theatre, dance, and film artists who are at the early stages of their professional careers, the Princess Grace Foundation Theatre Scholarships offer between $7,500 and $30,000 to outstanding students who are enrolled in a public or non-profit U.S. institution for studying theatre. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, be nominated by their school department dean, and demonstrate academic and artistic promise.
Princess Grace Foundation Theatre Scholarships
150 East 58th St. 25th Floor
New York, NY 10155
22. Rose Brand Scholarship Program
Deadline: November 28th
Designed to ensure that those who excel in set design and technical production are not overlooked when it comes to financial support, the Rose Brand Scholarship Program provides up to $5,000 to undergraduate and graduate students who are seeking theatre careers by studying scenic design at an accredited U.S. university. Selection will be based on faculty recommendations, photographs/descriptions of projects, essay responses, and expected promise as a theatre professional.
Rose Brand Scholarship Program
4 Emerson Lane
Secaucus, NJ 07094
23. Ruth R. Legg Memorial Theatre Arts Scholarship
Deadline: May 1st
Created by the Theatre Association of New York State (TANYS) to honor a beloved professor who was instrumental in the local arts efforts for developing theatre degree programs, the Ruth R. Legg Memorial Theatre Arts Scholarship is granted for up to $2,500 annually to a current high school senior who has been active in community theatre. Applicants must be accepted as a theatre major/minor in an accredited U.S. university, be a New York State resident, and provide at least one letter of sponsorship.
Ruth R. Legg Memorial Theatre Arts Scholarship
P.O. Box 428
Naples, NY 14512
24. Strollers Memorial Endowed Talent Scholarships
Deadline: January 15th
At the University of South Dakota, the Strollers Memorial Endowed Talent Scholarships are awarded annually for up to $2,000 to sophomore, junior, and senior-level undergraduate students who have demonstrated excellence in the performing arts with a major in theatre. Qualified applicants must be involved in theatre productions, maintain high academic standards, demonstrate good character, have financial need, and submit an art/technical portfolio.
Strollers Memorial Endowed Talent Scholarships
414 East Clark St.
Vermillion, SD 57069
25. Vivian “Bish” Edwards Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: December 5th
Within the California Educational Theatre Association (CETA), the Vivian “Bish” Edwards Memorial Scholarship is granted annually for $1,000 to a graduating high school senior from southern California who plans to major or minor in theatre at an accredited U.S. institution with the goal of becoming a theatre educator. Applicants must be dedicated theatre students, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher, submit a 1,000-word essay on the role of theatre in their professional goals, and agree to participate in an interview.
Vivian “Bish” Edwards Memorial Scholarship
800 South College Drive
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Beyond federal aid, it is strongly recommended that all theatre majors apply for as many scholarships as possible to help reduce the financial burden of rising tuition costs and minimize the amount of student loan debt that will need to be repaid with interest after graduation. Whether you are an actor, director, singer, playwright, designer, or member of the stage crew, be sure to check out these 25 great scholarships for theatre majors to take the lead in fostering your artistic talents and achieving your professional goals.