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Area students hone their talents at summer institute

Driving along the winding road that leads to the Quartz Mountain State Park lodge it becomes clear within the first few moments why the area has played host to the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute for over four decades.

Nestled between millennia old mountains where paleolithic tribes once hunted Wooly Mammoths 15,000 years ago and the endless, emerald-green waters of lake Altus-Lugert, the Arts Institute is a sanctuary for high school artists from across the state of Oklahoma.

Each year, nearly 1,000 students answer the clarion call to audition of the two-week long summer camp. A process that begins in January and can take months to finish.

Auditions are blind. The only thing that matters is raw talent. Economic and artistic backgrounds fall by the wayside, leaving only the student, their discipline and the judges.

Anyone in the state between ninth grade and the first summer post-graduation can audition. Each year the top 270 students are chosen to attend, where they receive a full scholarship, estimated at a worth of over $2,500.

Anne Peters has been the Director of Public Relations for the institute for over five years, though she never had a chance to attend the camp herself, she makes up for that by ensuring as many students as possible have a chance to audition.

"There is nothing else like this in the state, in the country, really," Peters said. "If you want to be in this kind of environment, with other artists, and faculty from across the country, this is it. We go across the state for auditions. We do a lot of driving around because we try to go to [the students] to make it as easy as possible. And everything is paid for, the whole point is that there shouldn't be any financial barrier to attending if you get accepted."

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