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Our Chapter

The Virginia/North Carolina Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters was founded in 2001 by Nancy Brockman, a local resident who had been president of the Washington, DC Chapter and, after moving to Charlottesville, president of the National organization.  A non-profit organization, NSAL has seventeen chapters across the country (as of 2016-17).  Its mission is to discover, award and promote excellence among America’s emerging young artists.  To that end, NSAL runs annual “Career Awards” competitions which take place at its Annual Meeting, held in different locations each May.  The competitions are in the rotating categories of Drama, Dance, Musical Theatre and Instrumental Music. 

Usually the age range eligibility is 18-25, with Dance being the notable exception.  The top prize normally is $12,000 together with substantial additional prizes.  Entry to the National Finals in May is gained by winning a chapter competition.   On the National level, VA/NC Chapter winners have done well, with its winners often placing. In 2012 our contestant won the top award. 

The VA/NC Chapter offers three prizes to winners of its chapter competition, namely, the Holly Semple First Prize of $1,000; the Hermine Jean Oppen Second Prize of $800; and the Marion Lawless Edwards Third Prize of $600.  Donations to these prize funds are always welcome.  In addition, each chapter is obligated to pay all expenses associated with sending the chapter winners to the National Finals, including transportation, hotel, application fee and incidental expenses.

NSAL also offers scholarships in voice and two-dimensional visual art through the Winston Scholarships, funded by a bequest from the estate of Shirley Rabb Winston.  Applicants between the ages of 16-22 apply to the individual chapters, from which two are selected from each category and forwarded to National for adjudication.  The scholarships must be for specific study and for a specific amount, say a summer workshop or study institute.  $10,000 in each category is awarded in varying amounts depending upon requests, and the VA/NC Chapter has had National winners named each year, including – on two occasions – the top amounts awarded for art scholarships.

The VA/NC Chapter meets at least three times a year (in fall, winter and spring) in addition to the live Career Awards Competition - held in March as a normal rule.  Members meet in private homes for a variety of programs related to arts disciplines, with the final program always featuring the chapter competition winners.  A portion of members’ tax deductible dues is sent to National each year together with a one-time initiation fee, all of which allows NSAL to fund its programs and competition.  Contributions to the VA/NC Chapter, usually made at membership renewal time, are gratefully accepted and are used to help the chapter in its mission of identifying and rewarding young artists who are on their way to professional careers in their chosen disciplines.