What is a discipline?

A DISCIPLINE is the broad area of study. The seven disciplines are: > Theater > Dance > Film/Animation > Computer-Assisted Visual Arts > Handcrafted Visual Arts > Instrumental Music > Vocal Music One Artist of the Year (seven total) will be named in each discipline.

What is a specialty?

A SPECIALTY is an area of study within the discipline. Semi-finalists and finalists will be named in each specialty. There are 24 specialties total. Click on the discipline below to view its specialties: > Theater > Dance > Film/Animation > Computer-Assisted Visual Arts > Handcrafted Visual Arts > Instrumental Music > Vocal Music

Can a student be nominated in more than one discipline?

YES. For example: If a student is amazing in theater AND is, say, a virtuoso pianist, that student may be nominated in both disciplines. In this instance, the theater nomination application should address the student’s strengths in theater and the instrumental music application should address the student’s strengths as a pianist.

Can a student be nominated in more than one specialty in the same discipline?

NO. For example: If you want to nominate a student in Handcrafted Visual Arts and you have a student who is amazing in drawing and painting and is also doing interesting work in ceramics, nominate your student in drawing and painting. All students will have the chance to show secondary skills as a part of the application.

What if my student is great in more than one specialty?

Nominate your student in the specialty that is her/his/their greatest strength. The student is also allowed to submit links to work in other areas as secondary components. We will consider these other pieces as we look at the full picture of who your student is as an artist.



Who is eligible to be nominated?

Eligible nominees only need to meet two criteria: . AGE: a high school JUNIOR of SENIOR between the ages of 16 and 19. . ORANGE COUNTY CONNECTION: a resident of Orange County; - OR - a student attending high school in Orange County

What if a student is not considered a junior or senior because s/he does not attend a traditional high school?

If the student does not attend a traditional high school that tracks students by grade, the student should be between the ages of 16 and 19.

Can a student be nominated in her/his/their junior AND senior year?

YES. This is about celebrating the top high school artists in the county this year regardless of how well they did last year. We want to honor the top artists in any given year and recognize that the top artist may be the same student two years in a row.

Can a recent graduate be nominated?

NO. Well, no and yes. If a student is enrolled as a student during the current school year, that student may be nominated, even if that student graduates mid-year (before the May/June graduation ceremonies.)

Can a sophomore or freshman be nominated?


What if I have a student that I feel is the top artist in my program but is probably not at the same level as other student artists in Orange County?

This program isn't about "winning." It is about honoring excellence. . We want to encourage all teachers and instructors to nominate the top artists being cultivated by their program. Use this to celebrate artistry in your programs. . Don’t worry about comparing yourselves to other programs or picking someone that is likely to be named "Artist of the Year." Celebrate your students and where they are right now.

Are leaders the the best students to nominate for "Artist of the Year"?

Not necessarily. We are not looking for the top "arts leader" or top "arts student." We are looking for your top ARTISTS. Now, if your top leader and favorite student is also your top artist, then that is the person to nominate.



How are students scored specifically?

Ultimate decisions are not made by using a formal rubric or scoring system, or made by calculating a numerical score. . We ask the judges to look at talent and technique, artistic vision, growth and impact, and heart to help guide discussions about the nominees. . The semi-finalists, and eventually the finalists and the Artists of the Year, are decided upon by a consensus decision by judging panels of professional arts as a result of considering all of these attributes as they inform who the student is as an ARTIST.

Who chooses the semi-finalists?

Semi-finalists are chosen by high school arts teachers and private arts instructors. . ALL arts teachers in Orange County are invited to be a part of the process to evaluate the nomination applications and choose the top students in the first round. . Typically, 15 to 25 teachers in each discipline volunteer to evaluate the applications. Most of these teachers have also nominated students. Because of the size of the evaluating pool and the fact that they represent schools from across the county, no one teacher is able to sway the results in favor of their nominated student(s). . Students are ultimately chosen by concensus via a conversation between all of the teachers evaluating the applications.

Who are the nominees?

Any student nominated by a teacher for Artist of the Year, even if that student does not complete her/his/their portion of the application. All nominees are recognized by The Orange County Register.

Who are the semi-finalists?

Up to 15 students in each discipline (at least 2 in every specialty) are chosen as semi-finalists.


Who are the finalists?

One student in each specialty is chosen as the finalist for that specialty. A total of 24 finalists will be named.

Who are the Artists of the Year?

One student in each discipline is chosen as the Artist of the Year. A total of 7 Artists of the Year will be named.

Who chooses the finalists and Artists of the Year?

The finalists and Artists of the Year are chosen by a panel of arts professionals during Round 2. They include department chairs and faculty from Southern California universities, professional artists, Register art critics, and OC high school arts teachers. (Only teachers who do NOT have students named as semi-finalists are invited to join the Round 2 judging panel.)

How many total students may a school/after-school program nominate?

NONE. Individual teachers nominate students. Schools/programs do not nominate students. There is no limit on the number of nominees per school/program.



Does a school have to put forward nominees in every discipline and/or specialty?

​NO. But we encourage your school to have teachers nominate students in every discipline if possible.

How many total students may a teacher nominate?

Two (2) juniors AND two (2) seniors, four (4) total PER specialty in EVERY discipline. If a teacher choses to nominate 4 students in every specialty, that teacher could nominate 96 students per year.

Do teachers have to nominate students in every discipline and/or specialty?

​NO. But we encourage you to do so. This is your chance to highlight your top students in all specialties and disciplines.

If a teacher teaches students at a high school AND through an after-school program, does the teacher get four nominations for the high school and four for the after-school program per specialty?

NO. Each nominator only gets four nominations (2 juniors AND 2 seniors per specialty TOTAL.) Where you choose to attribute (to the high school, a private studio/program, or to an individual private instructor) that nomination is up to you. Remember, we are looking to identify the top artists in the county, not all artists.

Can both a high school art teacher and an after-school instructor nominate the same student in the same discipline?

NO. The student should be nominated by one person only. We encourage you to talk with your student and the other instructor about who the best instructor to nominate should be.

When representing a high school, does the student have to study the discipline at the high school?

NO. If, for instance, you do not have a film program, you can still nominate outstanding film students who attend your school. ​Ideally, we want you to be able to showcase the students who are training in their art form at your school/in your program, but if you do not have a specific program on your campus, you can still nominate a student in the discipline if you feel that student is excellent in that discipline.

May a parent nominate their child as a nominee?

Ideally, NO. We want the nominations to come from an unbiased person. Students should be nominated by those instructors that train your student in her/his/their art form. . This said, we recognize that in some specialized cases, the parent may be the ONLY instructor qualified to nominate the student because the parent is the only person training the student in their artform. In that case, the parent may be the nominator. We encourage you to contact us if you have further questions about this.

Can a student nominate themselves?

NO. Only teachers/private instructors can nominate. If you wish to be nominated, we suggest that you talk with your teacher/private instructor about this possibility.


Do visual arts students have to submit a résumé?

NO. Visual arts students do not have to submit a résumé. There is space on the online application to add a list of awards/accomplishments if the student wishes to do so.

Should a musical theater student be nominated under Theater or Vocal Music?

Under THEATER, musical theater performers students may be nominated in the specialty of MUSICAL THEATER PERFORMANCE. In evaluating their talent, judges will evaluate the students nominated in this specialty through the lens of performance and acting FIRST, and through the lens of vocal quality SECOND. We want to see how students act through their singing performance. . Under VOCAL MUSIC, musical theater singers may be nominated in the specialty of NON-CLASSICAL VOICE if the focus is on highlighting the student as a musical theater singer. In evaluating their talent, judges will evaluate the students nominated in this specialty through the lens of vocal quality FIRST, and through the lens of being a good actor and performer SECOND. We want to see how students express themselves as singers through this style of singing.