2017 Individual Artist Fellowships Announced

Eight Nebraska artists were recently selected as recipients of the Nebraska Arts Council’s 2017 Individual Artist Fellowship award in Performing Arts and Filmmaking. This prestigious program recognizes exemplary work by Nebraska artists on a three-year rotation between artistic disciplines: Literature, Performing Arts/Filmmaking and Visual Arts.

The recipients were selected from a pool of 32 applicants by a panel of peer professionals including Jodee Nimerichter, Executive Director of the American Dance Festival; Janet Perkins, Community Development Program Manager for the Arkansas Arts Council; William P. Dougherty, Ellis and Nelle Levitt Professor of Music and Composition at Drake University; and Dan Brawley, President of Film Festival Alliance. A total of $18,000 was divided among the receiving artists. Panel recommendations were ratified by the Nebraska Arts Council Board of Directors at its quarterly meeting on March 7.

The recipients of the 2017 Individual Artist Fellowship award in Performing Arts and Filmmaking are:

$3,500 Award
Jason Fischer, Omaha (Filmmaking)
Ellen Struve, Omaha (Theater)
Tyler White, Lincoln (Music)

$2,000 Award
Beaufield Berry, Omaha (Theater)
Tessa Wedberg, Omaha (Filmmaking)

$1,500 Award
David Von Kampen, Lincoln (Music)

$1,000 Award
Nichol Mason Lazenby, Omaha (Choreography)
Dominique Morgan, Omaha (Music)

About the winners:
Jason Fischer
At about age four, Jason Fischer found his passion of illustration, followed later by airbrush and acrylic painting. He studied mechanical engineering in college and following graduation worked in the oil industry in Houston, Texas. He soon realized he was better suited in a creative career. After moving back to Omaha to be with family, Fischer began to self-educate himself in a range of fields including graphic art, photography, film/video production, software and website design. For the past 15-plus years, he has been Creative Director and Film Director for his firm Surreal Media Lab, which gives him variety of work, exciting challenges and the ability to do what he loves and make a living as an artist.

Ellen Struve
Ellen Struve is an Omaha-based playwright whose plays have been produced across the country. Her play Prince Max’s Trewly Awful Trip to the Desolat Interior was selected for the 2015 PlayPenn Playwrights’ Conference, presented at Great Plains Theatre Conference PlayFest at Joslyn Art Museum and will have its premiere in 2017 at Red Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. Another of Struve’s productions, Recommended Reading for Girls, was an O’Neill National Playwrights Conference semi-finalist. She leads Great Plains Theatre Conference’s Young Dramatist Wing for high school playwrights and is a founding member of the Omaha Playwrights Group, Nebraska Arts Council Individual Artist Fellow, WhyArts resident artist and Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts community artist. In 2017 she will be Creighton University’s first ever playwright-in-residence, developing The Dairy Maid-Right and co-teaching Theatre for Social Justice.

Tyler White
Dr. Tyler White has been Director of Orchestras at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln since 1994. Under his direction, the UNL Symphony Orchestra has been recognized as one of America’s finest collegiate ensembles, selected to perform at national and regional conventions of the Music Educators National Conference. Before coming to Nebraska, White led orchestras at Cornell University and Trinity University (Texas), and he appears regularly as guest conductor and clinician with student orchestras nationwide. In 2004, he was a guest lecturer in conducting at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China, and in September 2007 he was named Best Musical Director at the Waterford International Festival of Light Opera in Waterford, Ireland. White’s ongoing service as Resident Conductor of the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra has also garnered rave reviews from audiences, critics and professional musicians alike. White was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and raised in Manhattan, Kansas. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in composition from Cornell University. He has also studied at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) and the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau (France).

Beaufield Berry
Beaufield Berry is a playwright, educator and community connector based in Omaha. In addition to writing original plays, Berry is Executive Director of FireBelly Rep, an organization dedicated to helping playwrights see their visions developed onstage. In the past she has also been a Disney Teaching Artist for Omaha Performing Arts and Education Coordinator for North Omaha Summer Arts Programming, and has shared her talents with community organizations including KANEKO, Shelterbelt Theatre, Joslyn Art Museum and more. Berry has a passion for working with underserved communities and people with disabilities.

Tessa Wedberg
Tessa Wedberg is an Omaha-based filmmaker, currently writing and producing the short film In Fountain Creek. Through her film career she has also worked with organizations such as the Refugee Empowerment Center, Filmstreams and Inclusive Communities, and acted as assistant production coordinator on Alexander Payne’s film Downsizing in 2016. Wedberg is an active volunteer in the Omaha community and received a Bachelor’s in Journalism, Video Production from the University of Oregon.

David Von Kampen
David von Kampen is a composer based in Lincoln, Nebraska, whose work spans a variety of genres and styles, including jazz, choral music, hymnody and liturgy, solo voice, chamber music and musical theater. Currently a lecturer of music theory and literature at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he also directs the UNL Vocal Jazz Ensemble, teaches applied composition at Concordia University and serves as Music Coordinator for Blended Worship at Christ Lutheran Church. Von Kampen has more than 50 choral and instrumental compositions and arrangements published with Walton Music, G. Schirmer, Concordia Publishing House, UNC Jazz Press, MusicSpoke and others, and his music has been performed by professional, collegiate, high school and church ensembles throughout the United States. He has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Kansas, and both masters and bachelors degrees from the University of Nebraska.

Nichol Mason Lazenby
Originally based is Los Angeles, Nichol Mason Lazenby graduated from California State University of Long Beach with a BFA in Dance. She went on to dance professionally with LA Contemporary Dance Company, and her choreography has been presented in such places as the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles Movement Arts, Coachella Valley Repertory Theater and more. Before relocating to Omaha, Mason Lazenby was Dance Faculty at the University of Arizona and Pima Community College where she taught an array of disciplines from modern and jazz technique, choreography and improvisation, as well as dance conditioning. Currently an Artist in Residence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Guest Choreographer at Creighton University, Mason Lazenby also teaches at Omaha Academy of Ballet and Prairie Life Fitness. She has a Pilates Certification through Body Arts and Science International, Certificate in College Teaching and MFA in Dance/Choreography from the University of Arizona.

Dominique Morgan
Lyrics, life and love are the foundation of who Dominique Morgan is as an artist. First and foremost a songwriter he tells stories that speak to the heart, recall trial and tribulation and celebrate survival. This 12-time Omaha Entertainment & Arts Award nominee (4 years consecutively for Artist of the Year) as The Encounter said is "One of the most celebrated R&B artists in the Midwest." From songwriting to acting to advocacy, Morgan is deeply entrenched in the music scene. After celebrating seven Omaha Hip Hop Awards nominations this year, Morgan is working on his next full length album titled Therapy Notes. With the lead single “Life” featuring Hip Hop Artist Rowdy and writing a book of the same title, 2017 will be undoubtedly a year of growth and triumph for Morgan.

For more information on Individual Artist Fellowships, contact Launa Bacon at 402-595-3935 or visit