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Arts scholarships open to students in Bristol Bay

Izzy Ross
Ballet students perform during 'Once Upon a Tundra' in March 2019.

Middle and high school students from across Bristol Bay can apply for an arts scholarship program through the Dillingham Arts Council. The students can apply to pursue a project or program related to music, theater, dance, writing or art. The deadline to submit a letter of interest is June 15.

Email letters of interest to Debbie McLean at
Mail them to Dillingham Arts Council, PO Box 1390, Dillingham AK 99576

With questions call Debbie McLean at 907-843-1074

KDLG's Izzy Ross spoke with the Dillingham Arts Council's Debbie McLean and Evelyn Corbett, who received a scholarship when the program first started several years ago.

Izzy Ross: Thank you both so much for being here today. So Debbie, tell me a little bit more about this arts scholarship program for middle or high school students who might be interested in applying.

Debbie McLean: Well, it's for art, music, theater, dance, writing, any kind of the arts that a student can apply for. And they can send their name and a request to me at the Dillingham Arts Council, Post Office Box 1390, Zip code 99576. And just tell me a little bit about the scholarship. And then I will contact them for any additional information.

Ross: So it seems like a really broad program and like there's a lot of room to apply for a lot of different things here. What are the financial limitations on this? Like are there limits to how much money a student can apply for or what types of programs they can apply for?

McLean: Right, we usually set a limit on the amount that we're going to give away. And then depending upon how many students apply, which we don't usually have more than three or four apply.

Ross: Okay, got it. So it's a little bit flexible, depending on the applicant pool. Earlier, before we started this interview, you'd mentioned that this program had been going on for about five years. What are some of the things that students pursued through the scholarship program?

McLean: Well, we have sent several students to the Sitka Fine Arts camp. And one year we brought in a ballet teacher. And then the year after that we sent I think about five young folks to Anchorage, to study ballet.

Ross: That's really cool. And so the deadline here is June 15. Do programs that students want to participate in need to take place during the summer, or is there like a timeframe for when they have to participate?

McLean: Well, usually it's summer, but we're always open to new ideas.

Ross: Wonderful. And Evelyn, I'd love to pull you in here. You mentioned that you were one of the first recipients of this Dillingham Arts Council scholarship, and you actually attended the Sitka Fine Arts camp.

Evelyn Corbett: Yes, I did.

Ross: And so what was your experience like there?

Corbett: It was really good. It was one of my first independent trips that I took by myself. I went there specifically to continue studying violin, but I also took other classes such as pottery, wood carving, music theory, that kind of thing.

Ross: That sounds awesome. How long was the camp for?

Corbett: I think it was about five weeks.

Ross: Wow. What was your favorite part of that experience and of the camp?

Corbett: I would say being able to experience Sitka and the atmosphere of being around other young people that are interested in the same things that you are.

Ross: Totally, yeah, it makes a huge difference when you're with a group of people and you're all thinking about the same things, you know, focused on the same things. It's awesome. And so you mentioned you practiced violin, you studied violin while you were there. Were there any surprises at the camp like things where you were like, 'I didn't think I'd love woodcarving. But this is my favorite thing.'

Corbett: Well, I didn't think I would like pottery, actually. I am very, like, 'Oh I don't want to get messy,' but I was like totally fine with it after a couple of days.

Ross: Awesome. And for students or parents of students who might be interested in having themselves or a family member apply, what was the application process like?

Corbett: Well, it was very easy, actually. Debbie is very helpful. And don't be scared to reach out to her if you have questions. She's very clear with her answers as well.

Ross: For more information, folks can call Debbie, the numbers 907-843-1074. And we'll have that up on KDLG's website as well along with this interview. Is there anything else that either of you would like to add?

McLean: Yes, I would like to say that we're always looking for volunteers for the arts council. But we're also a 5013-C, and we have the ability to partner with other entities. So we're looking for people to partner with and to write grants with and to continue on and present things for the community.

Ross: Thank you both so much for joining me today.

Get in touch with the author at or 907-842-2200.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.
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