• It’s a Silver Jubilee for performances in Homer by young people
by Tribune staff
The Homer Council on the Arts’ 25th anniversary of the Jubilee Youth Variety Show has seen a lot of changes since the first year a group assembled in the Homer High School commons.
Diane Borgman, one of the key organizers, recalls it started humbly as a chance to let children show off their talents for live audiences. They sat on folding chairs in the smaller area, using very little technology and a small stage.
“I was principal at McNeil Canyon Elementary at the time. I’ve been a big supporter of the arts since I came to Alaska in 1970, working in rural schools throughout Alaska. At that time, there was little opportunity for young children to perform,” Borgman said. “Some teachers did recitals. It was before many other activities and opportunities.”
Borgman serves as president of HCOA and also on the Alaska State Council on the Arts board. Given her strong educational background, she felt that art needs to be an integral part of every child’s education.
The visual show by children to teens was begun two years earlier. This is a juried show that was on exhibit at the Pratt Museum, and at various businesses all over town. That portion of Jubilee is celebrating its 27th year anniversary.
“Then we decided, let’s come up with something for the performing arts. So, that’s when we started. We came up with “Jubilee” because we wanted it to be a celebration of youth talent, not a competition. We sat around talking, and looked up ‘celebration’ in the Thesaurus and came up with ‘Jubilant’ and then Jubilee.”
Given the anniversary, the Jubilee takes on added significance this year, yet promises to be in keeping with its traditional array of youthful surprises. In all, 23 performances begin when the curtains rise at 7 p.m. Friday at the Mariner Theatre.
“There will be dance numbers and vocals. There will be instrumentals, mandolin, guitar and piano. A tumbling act, skits – every year is a little different and every year there are special surprises in there,” Borgman said. “We have some young children who are doing special things for their age – first and second graders. There’s a special father-daughter duet that brought tears to my eyes. I was just blown away.”
The students come from a variety of educational backgrounds, from public to homeschool. Just as when they began the annual event, the main goal is still to keep the stress level down and the number of rehearsals at a minimum.
“It was just a very small beginning in 1987, and it got bigger, bigger and bigger. The main thing is we still want to keep the stress level down and the number of rehearsals minimal. We’ve asked them to be performance ready, though what that means will vary. A first grader will be different from an 8th, 9th or 12th grader,” she said.
Each student auditions to be in the program. They are judged on the quality of performance, stage presence, the age-appropriateness of the piece, the length and appropriateness for a family audience.
This also coincides with the HCOA Youth Summer Scholarships program. Students will be awarded money for youth camps – Sitka and Fairbanks each have art camp programs. Some are prestigious art programs out of state.
On the night of the Jubilee performance, the scholarship winners will be announced. Money from the Jubilee goes toward the scholarships.
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