Overture Awards

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Overture Awards

What is 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. It is the area’s largest solo arts competition and offers awards in six artistic disciplines.

What does the Overture Awards do?

The mission of the Overture Awards 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. 

What artistic disciplines does the Overture Awards accept applications for?

The Overture Awards competition includes six disciplines. Some disciplines also have specific categories. 

  • Discipline Program Groups:
    • Creative Writing
    • Dance
    • Instrumental Music
      • Brass/Woodwind/Percussion
      • Piano
      • String
    • Theater
      • Drama
      • Musical Theater
    • Visual Art
    • Vocal Music

Am I eligible to apply for the Overture Awards?

To be eligible, you must be able to answer ”Yes“ to these statements:

  • I am a student in grades 9-12.
  • I study in the Greater Cincinnati region.
  • If I'm selected as a semi-finalist, I will be able to attend the Semi-Finals Competition at the Aronoff Center. If I'm selected as a finalist, I will be available to attend the Overture Rehearsal and Finals at the Aronoff Center.

Click here for more information on eligibility. 

Click here to view competition dates.

Is the Overture Awards a virtual or in-person competition?

Both! For the 2024 competition, the Regional round will take place virtually. Applicants will submit their audition material through the Acceptd platform, and judges will adjudicate virtually. 

The Semi-Final and Final round of the compeition will take place on-site at the Aronoff Center.

*please visit https://www.cincinnatiarts.org/education-community/school-youth/overture-awards for competition dates.

Application Submission Process

What is my deadline to apply for the Overture Awards?

The 2024 Overture Awards competition application deadline is December 13, 2023 at 11:59 PM ET. To be considered for the competition, you must complete, upload, and submit all of your materials according to the requirements for the discipline/category in which you are applying by the deadline. All applications must be submitted through the Acceptd platform. 

How do I apply?

Eligible applicants apply to the Overture Awards competition through Acceptd, an online application platform. Please refer to the discipline and category guidelines by visiting cincinnatiarts.getacceptd.com.

What are the application requirements?

The application asks for basic contact information. Each discipline and category has its own media submission requirements. Please visit cincinnatiarts.getacceptd.com to view your discipline’s specific requirements.

Where can I read the application guidelines for my discipline?

Visit cincinnatiarts.getacceptd.com. Locate the "Start an Application" drop down on the left hand side of the screen. Select your category and program to view guidelines.

Can I apply in more than one discipline or category?

No. Applicants can enter in only one discipline.

Is there a fee to apply?

The application fee is $25 and must be paid in order to submit an application.

 If the application fee is a barrier to your participation in the Overture Awards, we are happy to waive the fee. Please email overtures@cincinnatiarts.org to request a fee waiver.

What if I cannot afford the application fee?

 If the application fee is a barrier to your participation in the Overture Awards, we are happy to waive the fee. Please email overtures@cincinnatiarts.org to request a fee waiver.

How do I pay my application fee?

You may pay your application fee with a credit card in the Acceptd application portal. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards are accepted. You will pay your application fee at the same time you submit your application.

 If the application fee is a barrier to your participation in the Overture Awards, we are happy to waive the fee. Please email overtures@cincinnatiarts.org to request a fee waiver.

How does a school pay for a student's application fee?

Email overtures@cincinnatiarts.org if you are a school that would like to cover the application fees for a student or group of students.

Do I need to be nominated to apply?

(New for 2023)

Students do not need to be nominated by a teacher or school coordinator in order to apply for the Overture Awards. There is no longer a limit on how many students a school may send to the Overture Awards. Any student in grades 9-12 that studies in the Greater Cincinnati region may apply. 

While students no longer need to be nominated to apply, we still ask teachers to encourage students to enter the competition and review their application material.

A lot of students from my school are applying. Is there a limit?

(New for 2023). There is no limit on the number of students that can apply from one school.  In the past, the limit was 12 students. This is no longer the case. 

How do I submit my portfolio, audition, or other submission materials?

Materials are uploaded as part of the online application process through the Acceptd platform. Please Note: Even small files may take some time to upload. Please do not wait until deadline day! Make sure you have ample time to complete the uploading process by the deadline.

Can I start my application and come back to it?

Yes, you may begin an application and come back to it at a later time to complete. The information you have entered can be saved and is available to you up until your application is submitted.

Can the Overture Awards advise me on what materials to submit in my application?

The Overture Awards cannot comment on specific pieces. We recommend following the guidelines as closely as possible and using your best judgement. Please note, if you do not follow the guidelines, you are doing so at your own risk. 

My video is over the time requirement. Is this still acceptable?

If your video is slightly over the minute requirement, that is still acceptable. Do not go over more than 5 seconds.

What file types and sizes are accepted in the application.

Visit cincinnatiarts.getacceptd.com. Locate the "Start an Application" drop down on the left hand side of the screen. Select your category and program to view guidelines. Here you will find information about media requirements.

If I do not win, can I apply again the following year?

Yes! You may reapply for each application cycle that you are eligible for.

How do I know if you received my completed application?

Once you submit the application on Acceptd, you will receive a confirmation email.

What if I have more questions about the application or competition?

If you still have questions or specific inquiries about your specific discipline, please email us at ‚Äčovertures@cincinnatiarts.org. 


What is an Overture Awards coordinator?

A coordinator's role is to identify a student or group of students from their school or studio that are eligible to compete, and guide them through the application process. A teacher, counselor, administrator, or private studio teacher can serve as a coordinator.

How do I join the Overture Awards email list?

Coordinators can click here to join the Overture Awards mailing list, or update their information.

Does a student need a coordinator in order to apply to the Overture Awards?

(New for 2023) A student does not need a coordinator in order to apply to the competition. However, we encourage students to have a teacher review their applications and criteria guidelines before submitting.


How will my work be evaluated?

The Overture Awards hires arts professionals in each discipline to serve as judges.

Since each discipline can vary in style, each judge on the panel usually has a different area of expertise.

Most judges work in the Greater Cincinnati area. However, occasionally the Overture Awards will hire judges from outside the immediate region.

Who decides if I move to the next level of the competition?

Who advances in each level of the competition is the sole discretion of the judging panel. Neither Cincinnati Arts Association staff nor its volunteers are involved with the selection process.

What will judges use to evaluate my work?

Refer to your discipline criteria to view what performances and portfolios will be judged on. Please visit cincinnatiarts.getacceptd.com to view your discipline’s criteria.

Does the Overture Awards provide feedback to applicants?

Judges do provide feedback. Feedback is sent to applicants via Acceptd within 2 weeks of the Semi-finalist and Finalist announcements.

Notification and Awards

Does the Overture Awards offer scholarships?

Overture Awards finalists and winners are eligible for monetary awards. That money is unrestricted, meaning it can help pay for college, art school, a conservatory program, etc.

How will I be notified of my status in the competition?

Semi-finalists and Finalists will be anounced  on our website. Applicants will also recieve a message through Acceptd on whether or not they are advancing to the Semi-finals round. 

Please view the competition timeline on the homepage for specific notification dates.


When are Overture Awards winners announced?

Winners are announced at the in-person Finals competition.

What do Overture Awards finalists and winners receive?

For the 2024 competition, students will win $3,000 (one awarded in each discipline) or a $1,000 finalist award (3 awarded in each discipline).

When are award checks mailed?

Checks will be mailed within 3 weeks of the Finals Competiton.

Anyone receiving an award check from the Overture Awards must submit a W-9 to the Overture Awards office. No check will be issued without this document. The Overture Awards team will provide this document to finalists.

If you have not yet received your award in the mail, please contact overtures@cincinnatiarts.org. 

Arts Educator Award

What is the 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 their students.

Who is eligible to win the award?

An educator who teaches any of the following arts disciplines may be nominated:

  • Creative Writing (playwriting/screenwriting,  fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction)
  • Dance (any genre)
  • Instrumental Music (any instrument or genre)
  • Theater (Drama, Musical Theater)
  • Visual Art (any medium including media arts)
  • Vocal Music (any genre)

An Arts Educator can be a high school arts specialist, teaching artists working with high school students, or an arts professional or educator providing private lessons or instruction.

Educators who have won in the past three years are not eligible to be nominated. Educators who have been finalists may be nominated again with no waiting period.

Who can nominate an educator?

Arts Educators are nominated by STUDENTS between the ages of 14-19 who are currently enrolled in high school.

What must be included in the video submission?

Nomination videos should focus on the qualities of the nominee (arts educator) and the impact they have made on their students with a particular focus on their students growth in the art discipline. CLICK HERE for more information about the nomination process and video tips.