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Northern Kentucky University School of the Arts Theatre and Dance Program is excited to announce our first annual High School Theatrical Design Competition! This competition invites and encourages high school seniors to submit their designs for a theatrical production produced between 2021-2023. The competition designs will be displayed virtually on the NKU SOTA website and in the NKU Fine Arts Center Atrium Gallery, and the winner will receive a four-year, half-tuition scholarship to NKU!

Who Can Enter

This design competition is open to all Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana high school seniors who plan to graduate during the 2023-2024 academic year.

The Selection Process

In Stage One, competitors will submit their design package per the entry requirements. Stage One will be judged anonymously. Entrants will be selected based on the adjudication criteria to move to Stage Two.

In Stage Two, the finalists will receive a Zoom mentorship session in which they will present their designs to the adjudicators, and receive feedback on their choices, process, and production design.

Entry Requirements

  • A Design Competition Registration Form for each design entry, submitted no later than December 1, 2023.
  • Qualifications:
    • Each entry must be a design created for high school theatre production or be a design created for use by a community theatre. Productions must have been staged between January 2021 and December 2023.
    • Designs may also be project related, if unrealized.
    • Designs must be fully created by the student. (not necessarily sewn or built, but designed by the student)
    • Each entry should represent a single design aspect (scenic, lighting, costumes, make-up/wigs, sound, props, projections) of a single production.

Virtual Display Format

Each person will be allowed to submit:

  • Up to 3 18"x24" panels (Each panel can include one or more production photographs, renderings, text descriptions, plots, etc.)
  • Recommended file format is PDF/JPG.
  • Each panel must include entrant's name, category (see entry form) and name of production represented.
  • Panels must be attached in the preferred order for display or files can be labeled by order.
  • File size should be less than 200MB.
  • One panel must include a typed design statement or description (not to exceed one page) which helps put the work in context for the viewer/adjudicators. It should clearly state the entrant’s objectives, describe challenges and solutions and include information on the collaborative effort of the production team.

Digital Permissions

  • If you grant NKU SOTA permission to exhibit this work it may include digital storage of display images, displaying in the SOTA Corbett lobby and usage for promotion of SOTA in print, online, and other digital formats. By stating "yes" you agree that you have gained any needed permissions for the use of all work presented in your submission.

Required Design Area Elements

Please click each heading to expand requirements.

In addition to the standard format for all submissions, entrants may include other support material with their submission as long as they do not exceed 5 individual files per submission. These materials will be used during the adjudication process, but will not be included in the exhibit. This material can include:

  • support paperwork (i.e. schedules, cue sheets, budgets, etc.), full blue/black line prints and additional research in PowerPoint/PDF format.
  • Clickable links for additional audio files containing examples of designed cues, music choices and /or original compositions.

Adjudication Committee

An interdisciplinary committee of qualified professionals will be assembled to adjudicate the NKU SOTA High School Theatrical Design Competition. Award winners will be announced at a reception on the afternoon of February 21, 2024. All entrants to the competition will be offered three (3) complimentary tickets to a spring semester production of their choice.

For more information, contact:

Jo Sanburg


  • Entries will be displayed online on the NKU website AND printed for display for the spring semester in the NKU Fine Arts Center Atrium Gallery.

Criteria for Adjudication

  • Did the Design Statement clearly reference the overall design concept: how it was developed, and how it supported the production?
  • Did the Virtual Display successfully present the design? Was it engaging and organized? Did it reflect the design skills of the artist?
  • How did choices of color, line, texture, composition, and motion reflect the objectives and solutions chosen? Were these design elements presented as a unified whole?
  • Did the design support the world of the play in a fashion integrated with the other elements?
  • What were the challenges faced? How successful and appropriate were the solutions chosen?
  • Does the design show a command of the tools and crafts of the artist and have a high degree of finish?
  • What is the overall impact of the Virtual Display?

Adjudication Notes

  • The adjudicators will have sole responsibility for the interpretation of these criteria and their execution.
  • Every entrant will receive an e-mail with written feedback from the adjudicators on their design and virtual display.
  • The decisions of the adjudicators will be final.