For those of you who may have been wondering — yes, Spotlight on Talent plans to continue its tradition of giving young singers, musicians, dancers and artists a chance to compete and show off their skills.
After all, Spotlight on Talent, has been providing a showcase for performers from throughout Central Florida since 1982.
The Pasco County tradition will continue in 2021 — but the event might look different this time, due to COVID-19 protocols.
Barbara Friedman, the event producer, said the preliminary auditions are scheduled for Feb. 13, with two final shows set for March 6 at the Center for the Arts at Wesley Chapel.
“That’s what we hope happens because it’s a really big deal for about 200 kids and their families,’’ said Friedman, who also is publicity chairman for the Heritage Arts Center Association (HACA) nonprofit organization.
Performers in the talent showcase compete, with participants ranging from kindergartners through high school seniors.
Ticket sales for the live shows are typically robust.
“People from all over are already calling to ask, ‘Are you going to have Spotlight?’ The answer is yes we are, but given what’s going on in the world, we need a Plan B,” Friedman said.
Under Plan B, the auditions will be canceled and everything will wrap into the March 6 performance date. Tickets won’t be sold. Performers will be presented in small groups with a socially distanced staggered format and all Center for Disease Control (CDC) protocols will be followed, she said.
Either way, Friedman said the event will offer $4,000 worth of cash and prizes, including a $1,000 scholarship to the graduating senior who has the highest score.
“If it all doesn’t go exactly as we’d like it, we won’t be completely heartbroken,’’ Friedman said.
She added: “We’re not sure what the world will be like in February and March, but we’re going to make it (the competition) happen.’’
As they say, the show must go on.
That’s what the HACA, which is charged with promoting the arts, has made happen for nearly four decades. Between the Spotlight on Talent and the annual Moonlight and Ivory concert at the Dade City Women’s Club (used to raise scholarship money for performing arts students), the organization has provided numerous opportunities for local performers.
Spotlight on Talent was founded by Sally Blackwood, whose family still runs a dance studio in Dade City.
The annual showcase has grown into a long-anticipated event for performers and audience members throughout Central Florida.
“There just isn’t anything like this in our area, so we draw from well beyond Pasco County,’’ Friedman said.
Spotlight on Talent prides itself on its organization and professionalism. At the auditions and final performances, each participant is analyzed by a panel of five professional judges. Some might be college professors. Others could be dance studio owners, or artists. But, they bring a level of expertise that is valued by everyone.
“We want to develop and reward all these kids with God-given talents who are working really hard,’’ Friedman said. “One great way to do that is through our judges. It’s one thing to prepare a piece, come on a big stage and perform in front of people. But, the judges really make a difference.”
She went on: “We pay these judges to evaluate the performance with a written evaluation, so they get feedback on what they should do to further develop their talent. They get experience at auditioning and performing, plus they get tips from professionals. If kids are serious about their talent, those are exactly the things you need to get to college and get scholarships. Our event is very valuable for the performers — the serious piano students and the serious dance students — in the area. It represents an opportunity for them.’’
The all-volunteer, 15-member HACA board of directors oversees everything from event administration to ticket sales.
“We are very hopeful that everything will work out,’’ Friedman said. “It would be great to have it come off like it always does. I think we’d all like COVID to just go away. But, regardless of what happens, we’re going to be able to offer everything we normally do — with the possible exception of a large crowd.
“We’re moving forward and we’ll make it work,” Friedman said.’
For more information about Spotlight on Talent, including a look at last year’s show, log onto HeritageArts.org.
By Joey Johnston
Published October 14, 2020