From Sarasota to The Juilliard School, Reed Tucker is using his scholarships for his music career.
A well-known Sarasota nonprofit has a new name, but its mission of awarding grants and scholarships is continuing.
The Exchange, formerly the Woman’s Exchange Inc., on June 7 awarded $250,000 in grants to 19 arts and cultural organizations and scholarships to 22 students.
This year’s recipients included organizations such as Florida Studio Theatre, Hermitage Artist Retreat, Perlman Music Program, The Players Centre for Performing Arts, Sarasota Orchestra and Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.
The scholarships are a boost for students seeking to advance their education. Former scholarship recipient and bassist Reed Tucker received $12,000 from The Exchange during his four years in college, where he studied music.
“They (the scholarships) helped me purchase instruments and cases to travel,” Tucker said. “Your instrument teaches you as much as a teacher does; a good instrument is essential.”
The scholarships are achievement-based, with an application process that looks at letters of recommendation, the student’s GPA, artistic abilities and achievements, and their community involvement.
Karen Koblenz, The Exchange executive director and CEO, says many of the students who are chosen for scholarships have been involved with the arts their entire lives and are choosing to continue their art to make it their careers.
Tucker grew up in Sarasota and attended Pine View High School. After high school, he studied at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., and now studies at The Juilliard School as a recipient of a Kovner Fellowship. He graduates in spring 2019.
When Tucker was a youngster in Sarasota, he participated in Jazz Juvenocracy, the Perlman Music Program/Suncoast and the Sarasota Orchestra’s Youth Symphony. He credits his success in receiving the multiple scholarships from the nonprofit to his work ethic and his work with the local arts community.
Koblenz says Tucker was a prime candidate for the scholarships.
“He is the perfect example because it shows how the art organization plays a critical role in our youth and how our youth are able to move onto a higher level and impact not only our community, but in essence, the world,” Koblenz said. “Reed will have that impact because of where he’s already gone.”
Because of Tucker’s success, he’s been granted opportunities to excel as a musician, including playing in Carnegie Hall.
The Exchange aims to give students a chance to further their careers in the arts and turn “full circle” back to Sarasota. Tucker says he would love to one day play in the Sarasota Orchestra if the opportunity presents itself.
During the summer when Tucker was home in Sarasota, he volunteered his time to The Exchange, giving Koblenz and others at the opportunity to get to know Tucker better.
“We’ve all followed him through his career and are so proud that he’s been able to reach the level that he’s accomplished,” Koblenz said.
Tucker says he volunteers because of the support The Exchange gives to the Sarasota arts.
“They (The Exchange) had done so much for me and the organizations I was a part of growing up,” Tucker said. “I felt like giving back to them especially because they have been influential in the community.”
“He is an All-American young man,” Koblenz said. “He’s generous, motivated, just a great kid.”