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Award Acceptance Speech

My name is Molly Hennighausen and I am the Executive Director of the New York State Summer School of the Arts, a pre-professional training program offering month-long residencies in the areas of theater, orchestral studies, choral studies, dance, ballet, visual arts, and media arts. I’ve seen a few alums over the weekend, which is fantastic! On behalf of everyone at NYSSSA and the School of Theater, I am honored to accept this award and join the past recipients who made an incredible impact on theater education. The NYSTEA Conference is an amazing opportunity. Over this past weekend, I have watched students from across the state collaborate with one another and learn new skills from amazing guest artists and workshop leaders.

There is a quote that I think about often by President John F. Kennedy. He said “We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda. It is truth.” I would like to take a moment to talk about art and truth and your role as an artist.

Artists have a gift. They have the gift of telling a story- be it an individual’s story or a community’s story. And with that gift comes the responsibility of translating that story in a unique and truthful way so that it may be received by the viewer or listener. Art is sensory and by using our senses we use art to connect with our inner selves, whether we are the maker or receiver. And both roles require curiosity and courage to truly see and feel the impact.

Art can and will be hard. But with that, comes satisfaction and pleasure. Art inspires us to connect to one another more deeply and to open our eyes and hearts to new ways of seeing. I ask each of you to be courageous and to push past the boundaries of what you think you can do, or what is possible. Play and be brave.  Theater, as with life, is about trying. Pushing boundaries is about making mistakes and still pushing the boundary. Work Hard. They say that success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. So sweat. Sweat a lot! Grow. Collaborate. Ask for help. Offer help. And above all else, be truthful and use the tools you gained over this past weekend to stretch the boundary and make great art.