2017 Ben Vereen “Wellness Through the Arts” Program

A program of the University of Arizona’s College of Fine Arts operated in collaboration with Arts Express and the Southern Arizona Ben Vereen Awards


Wellness Through the Arts (WTA) is a creative expression initiative showcasing the correlation between wellness and the Arts in youth. WTA seeks to encourage students to express how their experience in the arts has helped them overcome a health or well-being challenge, such as Low Self-Esteem, Poor Performance in School, Bullying, Obesity, Diabetes, Substance Abuse, or Stress, Anxiety, or Depression.

Who is Eligible to Participate?

  • Individual students grades 6 – 12
  • Collaborative student groups or classrooms comprised exclusively of students grades 6-12


Register Individual

Register Group


Students can submit their creative expressions to WTA in written form or a video performance by a soloist, small group, or even a whole class. We also accept submissions in Spanish and using American Sign Language. Through one of the art forms below, we want students to tell us how the performing arts have impacted their life:

1. Written

  • Essay
  • Poem
  • Song Lyrics

***Maximum of 2 pages, single-spaced, size 12 font

 2.  Video

  • Spoken Word / Monologue / Theatrical performance
  • Song or instrumental composition
  • Dance

*** Maximum 2 minutes in length; Record via Smartphone or digital video camera

Contest Rules

  • The individual student or group/classroom registration form must be completed and turned in at the time of submission (see link to registration above)
  • To be considered, all entries must be related directly to the topic (i.e. the impact of the performing arts on your life)
  • All entries must be submitted by the March 17, 2017 deadline. No late entries will be accepted
  • All entries must be within the page or minute limits established above. An entry will not be considered if it exceeds the maximum page/minute requirement
  • All Written and Video Expressions must be submitted digitally in PDF or MP4 formats respectively (see link to registration above).
  • All Written and Video Expression entries must be the original written composition and music of the student(s).
  • Release forms for all persons in a video must be provided by the entrant at the time of submission.
  • All submissions must be suitable for an audience ages 8+ and cannot include profanity, violence or unsafe behavior. Moreover, the submissions must be made in a responsible manner that promotes respect of other individuals, animals, and the environment.

Judging Criteria

  • Adherence to Contest Rules.
  • Composition: Originality, Authenticity, Creativity, Use of Drama/Humor, Flow
  • Impact: Audience Engagement, Compelling Message, Expressive/Evocative
  • Adjudication will be based on the composition and impact of the submitted Written or Video Expression, not the quality of the technology used.
  • The decisions of the judges are final.


Selected entries will receive $500 and 2 private sessions to collaborate with an arts mentor to turn their essay or video submission into a polished, fully realized work of art to be presented at the Southern Arizona Ben Vereen Awards.


Submissions must be received by March 17, 2017.
Finalists will be notified on April 3, 2017.
Student will meet with arts mentors between April 5- 30, 2017.
Fully realized projects will be premiered at the Southern Arizona Ben Vereen Awards in Tucson, AZ on May 7, 2017