BY HEATHER WOOD
The BMDS Charitable Trust has been helping students earn degrees in the performing arts since 2001.
The foundation was created in memory of Kate Huntington, “a young and active member” of the Bermuda Musical & Dramatic Society who died in an accident in 2000.
“At the request of her family, all funds donated in memory of Kate are used specifically to promote theatre among Bermuda’s youth,” said Jennifer Campbell, on behalf of the trustees of the Trust.
“The primary source of income for the BMDS Charitable Trust has been the annual Famous for 15 Minutes Playwriting Festival which, as a result of scheduling conflicts and then the Covid-19 pandemic, has not been staged since 2018. However, despite these financial difficulties, the Trust has continued to fulfil its mission to award sponsorships and bursaries to Bermudian students studying various aspects of theatrical arts at accredited learning institutions.”
More than $440,000 has been raised since the charity was formed.
An annual donation is made to the Bermuda School of Music bursary programme. According to Ms Campbell, $3,500 was given last year.
In addition, four bursaries of $5,000 each were presented to performing arts students:
- Zayla Bolin is studying towards a bachelor’s degree in acting for screen at Bath Spa University.
- Skye Minors is pursuing a degree in theatre arts-dance arts at Howard University.
- John Seymour is pursuing a bachelor of professional studies in interdisciplinary music at Berklee College of Music.
- Jesaiah Talbot is working towards a bachelor’s degree in music and sound design at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Ms Minors, 18, was thrilled to receive the BMDS bursary.
“I was getting discouraged because a lot of scholarships weren’t coming in from Bermuda specifically. I think it’s so important that us as Bermudian performing artists, that we get that recognition and support from scholarships like that so we can still do what we love to do.
“So I was very excited and happy that I got this scholarship.”
Her passion for performing is what got her noticed by the BMDS scholarship committee. Apart from a short break when she was devoted to football, her interest hasn’t wavered since she discovered dance at age five.
She studied locally at In Motion School of Dance and then at DanceSations School of Dance. Ms Minors has also benefited from “multiple intensives under performers like Debbie Allen” and lessons at The Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in New York. She also performed in productions while in high school in the US.
She started acting in 2014 after an audition with Talent Inc, an American management company. Roles in “multiple school plays” and G&S productions followed.
“So I’ve always had this love for performing. I want to do this professionally – whether it’s dance or acting or on Broadway. Coming to Howard has made me realise that it’s just this love for performing that I really want to proceed with,” she said.
The early part of the pandemic was “a discouraging period of time” for the teenager whose performances were limited by the coronavirus.
“You want to dance and be in the studio with other dancers and do productions,” she said. “That is not to say that I didn’t still perform – I did competitions and showcases online – but it didn’t have the same feeling as actually being surrounded by other dancers and your teachers as well. It definitely was discouraging.”
In helping her tuition at Howard, the BMDS grant opened up those opportunities for her once more.
“Last year I got to do certain projects but they were very solo because of Covid and so now, being able to create with other people and get back in touch with performance as part of a dance company, it’s been really great for me – mentally as well. I am not just thinking by myself.”
Her hope is that the bursary moves her closer to having the career she dreams of – especially as she is without a Plan B.
“This programme has really showed me that wherever this takes me it’s going to work out because I’m being built and educated on different levels and different genres of performing arts,” said Ms Minors, who is in her freshman year.
“So honestly, wherever this takes me, I feel like I will be content. This is it for me right now. I can always fall back on one of the other genres. If dance doesn’t work out I can always act, if I’m not acting I can get a different gig. I feel that because of the way they’re educating me I’ll be in the realm somewhere.”
Her advice is not to give up if scholarship applications do not go your way: work and save money, work on your craft and keep trying.
“I didn’t get many scholarships last year either and I know how frustrating and taxing it can be mentally. I would say still pursue going to school, whether you received a scholarship or not. The determination to go for me outweighed the lack of scholarships I received. If you want to go to school and receive an education in the arts, it will happen if you work for it.”
For more information on the BMDS Charitable Trust visit bmds.bm/charitable-trust/