Founder of Youth Theatre Wins "Hobart Award"
Nikki Dyke, one of the community's most important arts figures, has been named the winner of the "2012 Frances Finch Hobart Award," which honors outstanding voluntary community service.
The award was presented by the Johnston County Community Foundation, which said her work has helped build "a stronger community in which people can live, work and enjoy life."
She was presented the award by John and Frances "Frankie" Finch Hobart.
Dyke, the founder and director of the Clayton Youth Theater, called it "an exciting, though unanticipated, honor."
"I love the theater, and it was easy putting my heart into it," she said.
To get the award, the Community Foundation said Dyke had to demonstrate an ability to motivate and mobilize others, a willingness for on-going involvement, a knack for helping others solve social problems and an ability to help meet community needs--and she has. The group said she has also met the requirement "to demonstrate vision, vitality, determination, selflessness, generosity and a full, caring heart."
Dyke began her efforts to establish a Youth Theater five years ago, though only eight youngsters showed up to audition for that first show. For the Theater's latest production, "Hairspray," more than 70 were fighting for a spot in the cast.
"I felt there needed to be a stronger arts presence in our community," Dyke said. "We had a slow start that first year, but to see the growth in the last five years is wonderful and exciting, and it gives us great hope for the future."
Dyke, a theater veteran, was a volunteer advisor to the theater program at Clayton High School before budget cuts shut it down. It was then she began to build, from scratch, a community program, applying for grants and developing sponsor support. Since then, hundreds of middle and high school students have come through the program as actors, stage managers, set designers and technicians. The Theater has produced eight plays, with "Hairspray" going to the stage July 27-28 and August 2-4 as the ninth.
In addition, Dyke has extended the Theater's reach to include a week long theater workshop for rising 1st-6th graders called “Backstage Pass,” which introduces young children to theater life. Dykes also provides day-long “theater experiences” for local organizations, such as the Boy Scouts.