Rewarding Creativity: The Shad Festival Art Scholarship

by Edie Weinstein
Amy Lavery beams like a proud parent when she speaks about her role as chairperson for the Shad Festival Art Scholarship.  This is her second year overseeing the program that she says, “is open to any area seniors graduating and pursuing a degree in the arts.”
A change was made in the guidelines that offered small dollar awards ($200-$500) awards to several students, “to only two significant awards, one in New Jersey and one in Pennsylvania.  Last year we awarded $5,000 to each recipient.  This year, we will award $10,000 each!”
What that means to the students and their families is that a significant financial burden will be lifted as a reward for work well done and an opportunity to follow their dreams in various creative fields which might include fine arts, performing arts, design, writing and music.
Lavery explains, “A lot of people think you have to go to art school and become a painter. Last year, one of the recipients went to school to become an architect and the other went to school to become an illustrator.”
She continues, “The scholarship is made possible through the proceeds from the Shad Festival Art Auction.  Area residents donate posters that are bid on in both a silent auction and live auction the weekend of Shad Fest.”
The Shad Fest is a family friendly event that takes place in the picturesque Delaware River town of Lambertville, which is itself, known for diverse art galleries.
According to Lavery, “This year marked the 35th anniversary of the Shad Festival and a special auction at Rago Arts and Auction House was held on Saturday April 30th.  This auction highlighted works by high end area artists and brought attention to the importance of the scholarship.”
The recipients this year are Lucas Ebeling from New Hope Solebury School and Ilya Romashov from South Hunterdon Regional.
Lucas is a Jazz Drummer who will be attending New York University and pursuing a degree in Jazz studies. Ilya is a painter who will be attending Pratt Institute with a concentration in Graphic Arts.  An awards dinner will be held on June 7th at Marsha Brown’s to honor the recipients.
Lavery explains that even as many schools are cutting art programs, “New Hope and Lambertville have an arts history. It’s part of our culture.”
A rigorous review process takes place that includes application, portfolio submission and interviews.
She shares, “What comes out is that these kids just being involved is an outlet for them. Most of them are so well rounded. They are all high achieving students and involved in many activities and community service.”
Lavery has a special place in her heart for this scholarship program, since she won the award herself when she was a student at South Hunterdon High School in Lambertville. It allowed her to earn her degree in Interior Design.
She adds, “It is my way to give back and offer thanks for helping me out. Seeing the gratitude with these kids and their families means everything to me.”