The Overture Awards

The Overture Awards is a program that recognizes and rewards excellence in the arts among Greater Cincinnati students in grades 9-12. Its mission is to encourage arts education as an integral part of a student’s academic experience and to create an environment that encourages training in, and appreciation of, the arts. The Overture Awards Competition is the area’s largest solo arts competition and offers awards in six artistic disciplines: creative writing, dance, instrumental music, theatre, visual art, and vocal music.

If you have questions, contact us at (513) 977-4116 or

Save the date! Applications for the 2023 Overture Awards will open September 19, 2022.

Congratulations 2022 Overture Awards Recipients!

CREATIVE WRITING: Eliza O’Keefe, grade 11, Walnut Hills High School

HOMETOWN: Cincinnati, OH – Eliza is a junior at Walnut Hills High School. Her work has been recognized by YoungArts and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She is an editor at Polyphony Lit and has attended the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference.


DANCE: Karley Burdick, grade 12, West Clermont High School / Studies with Just Off Broadway    

HOMETOWN: Batavia, OH Karley is a member of Just Off Broadway’s national award-winning convention and competition team. She has received numerous competition awards and scholarships, and also teaches. While at the School for Creative and Performing Arts, she performed lead roles and solos in numerous productions, including The Nutcracker and Alice in Wonderland. Karley intends to pursue a BFA in dance.


INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC: Ari Webb, grade 11, Wyoming High School / Studies with Alan Rafferty  

HOMETOWN: Cincinnati, OH – Ari is a 16-year-old Venezuelan-American cellist. In 2021, he won the State of Ohio Buckeye Auditions and was selected to perform in the NPR radio show From the Top in a performance with artists Tessa Lark and Peter Dugan. Ari is a winner of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition and will perform with the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra in the Spring of 2022.


THEATER: Payton Hines, grade 12, Sycamore High School / Studies with Karl Resnik

HOMETOWN: Cincinnati, OH Payton is a senior at Sycamore High School. For her final season, she will play Elle Woods in Legally Blonde: The Musical this April. Outside of school, she trains with Lachey Arts, Karl Resnik, and CCM's Musical Theatre Intensive (MTI). Payton plans to get her BFA in Musical Theatre. She is incredibly thankful for her Cincinnati arts community, her family, Lea and Drew Lachey, Mr. Whapham, and Karl Resnik.


VISUAL ART: Emma Wang, grade 12, Ursuline Academy   

HOMETOWN: Mason, OH – Emma has had a passion for art ever since she could hold a pencil. She specializes in sculpture and fashion, although her favorite part about being an artist is experimenting with a broad range of art forms. Her other hobbies include playing the violin and Chinese violin and long-distance running.


VOCAL MUSIC: Ella Vaughn, grade 11, Walnut Hills High School / Studies with Musical Arts Center

HOMETOWN: Cincinnati, OH – Ella's earliest memories include singing and performing. She has a passion for music, participates in musical theater at her school, studies voice with Karl Resnik at the Musical Arts Center, and is in the Young Artist Preparatory Program for opera training. She loves to sing and plans to study music in college, majoring in vocal performance.


Congratulations 2022 Arts Educator Winners!

Beth LeBlanc, Sycamore High School

Discipline: Creative Writing

Nominated by Deeya Prakash


Tricia Sundbeck, College Conservatory of Music – Dance Prep (UC)

Discipline: Dance

Nominated by Vivi Guemez

Who may apply to the Overture Awards?

All students in grades 9-12 who study in the Greater Cincinnati region are eligible.

Click here to learn more about who may apply to the Overture Awards.

Is there a fee to apply?

The application fee is $20 and must be paid in order to submit application.

Do students need to be nominated to apply to the Overture Awards?

Yes, students must be nominated by a coordinator to apply. New coordinators can register here. A teacher, counselor, administrator, or private studio teacher can serve as a coordinator.

A nomimated student will receive a code from their coordinator that will need to be recorded on their application. Coordinators will be sent this code before September 20.

How do I register to be an Overture Awards coordinator?

Click here to register to be a coordinator, or to update your infomation. 

What is the application criteria for each discipline?

When are students notified on if they advance to the next stage in the competition?

Semi-finalists notified: Friday, January 21 by 5:00 PM

Finalists notified: Thursday, February 24 by 5:00 PM

What will the winners and the finalists of the Overture Awards receive?

For the 2022 competition, students may win $3,000 (one awarded in each discipline) or a $1,000 finalist award (a total of 18 awarded).

Arts Educator Award

The Arts Educator Award promotes and rewards excellence in arts instruction throughout Greater Cincinnati. Students nominate an educator through video submission that describes the impact the educator has had on his/her students.

Past Overture Awards Winners and Finalists