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    Arts Advocates awards $55,000 in scholarships to 10 Sarasota-Manatee students

    By Sarasota Herald-Tribune,


    Arts Advocates recently awarded 10 Sarasota and Manatee County students $5,500 scholarships for the 2024-25 school year. The $55,000 total is the largest amount awarded in one year and celebrates Arts Advocates’ 55th anniversary.

    Since 1969, the scholarship program has awarded over $1.1 million to students whose studies include visual and related arts, dance, writing, music, theater, and architecture.

    Artwork by the winning visual arts students will be on display in the window of the Arts Advocates Gallery (Crossings at Siesta Key mall, 3501 S. Tamiami Trail) throughout July. Also in July, the gallery will feature photos and bios of all the winners and a video of winners’ performances from the scholarship award event at Sarasota Yacht Club.

    The scholarship winners:

    Maria Medina Almaguer is a two-year Arts Advocates scholarship awardee studying piano at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Almaguer, an accomplished pianist, is majoring in contemporary writing and production.

    Emmalee Bunnell, a Venice High School graduate, will pursue a B.F.A. in dance, with a minor in arts in communities. She has been actively involved in competitive dance and received several state, regional and national competition awards.

    Miracle Deveaux, a graduate of Booker High School’s Visual and Performing Arts Program, plans to major in music production in college. Deveaux has been involved with the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, showcasing her talents in dancing, singing, and acting.

    Lillian Fox is a three-time Arts Advocates scholarship awardee and will be a junior at the University of South Florida, where she is a double major in dance and studio art. She has narrowed her focus to painting and design.

    Hong Nguyen, a Booker High School graduate, plans to attend Ringling College of Art and Design in the fall. His interests are painting, illustration, and digital art. He won the Winning Portfolio award of the 2024 Florida State Fair Contest.

    Colin Leonard is a four-year recipient of the Arts Advocates scholarship and will enter his final year at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he studies jazz saxophone, flute, and clarinet. In addition to music, Leonard will graduate with a minor in environmental studies.

    Noelle Prouty is a two-time Arts Advocates scholarship awardee who will continue her studies at the University of Florida, majoring in art and biology. She hopes to pursue a career in medical or biological illustration.

    John Quigley is a multiyear recipient of the Arts Advocate scholarship and will enter his final year at Ringling College of Art and Design, majoring in illustration and digital art. His goal is a career as a concept/storyboard artist.

    Samantha Tanelli is a second year Arts Advocates scholarship awardee and attends Ringling College of Art and Design. Her goal is to illustrate children’s books and realize the dream of owning a children’s art studio. In 2023, she secured first and third place in the Sarasota County Spring Art Show.

    Danae Tran is a second year Arts Advocates scholarship awardee. She will continue to study violin performance at Stetson University. Tran is a first violin of the Stetson University Symphony Orchestra and Stetson University Chamber Orchestra, and she is a leader of the prestigious chamber music ensemble The Barron Quartet.

    “Members of Arts Advocates are proud to support these students in furthering their educations," said Deb Altshul-Stark, co-chair of the scholarship team along with Tonya Eubank. "We are impressed by the work, optimism, and drive of our awardees. We look forward to following their careers.”

    To learn more Arts Advocates, visit

    Submitted by Kelly Fores

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