A'Keyah Williams Alyce Erickson Shari Upbin and T.J. Pursley.jpg
A'Keyah Williams Alyce Erickson Shari Upbin and T.J. Pursley
Arlene Herson, Jolie Lavaux and Pam Polani.jpg
Arlene Herson, Jolie Lavaux and 
Pam Polani
Bob and  Janet Buruchian.jpg
Bob and Janet Buruchian
Brian Edwards and Shari Upbin.jpg
Brian Edwards and Shari Upbin
Connie Francis and Yaacov Heller.jpg
Connie Francis and Yaacov Heller
T.J. Pursley, Shari Upbin, Lisa Leonard and Yi-Chun Sarah Tsai.jpg
.J. Pursley, Shari Upbin, Lisa
 Leonard and Yi-Chun Sarah Tsai
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Tinka and Scott Grody and
 Christine Lynn

Rising Performers Dazzle at 2024 NSAL Star Maker Awards Gala

Internationally Renowned Artist Yaacov Heller Honored with

Lifetime Achievement Award 

The National Society of Arts and Letters of Florida (NSAL) bestowed internationally renowned artist Yaacov Heller with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent NSAL’s Star Maker Awards Gala at Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club in Boca Raton. In an evening of many highlights, a pinnacle moment was when legendary singer Connie Francis presented the award to her dear friend, followed by Heller’s heartfelt acceptance speech. The glittering event supports the Boca Raton-based nonprofit’s mission of providing scholarships, competitions, and mentoring for local performing and visual artists. The Gala features performances by NSAL scholarship recipients and competition winners, along with a sumptuous dining experienceEvent Chairs were Alyce Erickson and Shari Upbin, with Arlene Herson, the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, serving as Honorary Chair. 

“The Star Maker Awards Gala is a stellar gathering of the area’s foremost arts advocates,” stated Kirsten Stephenson, President of NSAL of Florida“Each year, we are delighted to witness the incredible young talent that our fundraisers’ support, while paying homage to a cultural icon. NSAL of Florida is extremely grateful to the event sponsors including the Grand Supreme Benefactors Jay and Marilyn Weinberg and Marquee Benefactors the L&N Andreas Foundation and the E.M. Lynn Foundation.”

 The Star Maker Awards Gala is the nonprofit’s flagship fundraiser and an acclaimed showcase for rising local talent. Performers include scholarship and competition winners from both the high school and collegiate levels, who dazzled the guests with their artistry and grace.

The event attracted a who’s who of Boca Raton’s philanthropic and cultural leaders, who came to honor their friend and monumental talent, Yaacov Heller.

“Yaacov Heller is an artistic visionary, whose critically acclaimed work has touched the hearts of international luminaries,” said Shari Upbin. “In addition to being a world-renowned painter, sculptor, and jewelry maker, Yaacov is also an extraordinary supporter of NSAL and a vital advocate for young talent in the arts. We are thrilled to be honoring him at this year’s Star Maker Award Gala.”

Heller has been rated among the world’s most accomplished sculptors and top silversmiths. His work has been used to convey messages of hope, tolerance, acceptance, remembrance, and peace through the interpretation of the human form and spirit while holding to his personal unwavering commitment to artistic quality. Throughout his sixty-year career, he has been commissioned to create historically significant works for presidents, kings and queens, heads of state and other dignitaries and celebrities. Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, George Bush, Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Henry Kissinger, Hosni Mubarak, Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres, Jacque Chirac, Yitzhak Rabin, and Anwar Sadat are among the many world leaders who have owned pieces bearing the artist’s signature. His works are found in presidential libraries and museums worldwide.


To learn how you can help foster the dreams of young artists, please visit www.nsalflorida.org.


About NSAL:

NSAL aims to discover talented young people at the beginning of their careers and provides scholarships and competitions in art, dance, drama, literature, music and musical theatre, and works to advance their careers and support creative opportunities. Excelling at the chapter level allows competitors to progress to national competitions and where many stars have been discovered. Among these are Shirley MacLaine, actress/dancer/writer; Jessye Norman, opera singer; Megan Hilty, Broadway and television star; Awadagin Pratt, pianist; and Amanda McKerrow, prima ballerina, and opera star Nadine Sierra who was discovered through the Florida Chapter.

For more information about NSAL scholarships, competitions and how to become a supporter, please visit www.NSALFlorida.org

Dr. Peter Wallach, David Orson Wallach, Mercedes and Jacob Andreas.jpg
Dr. Peter Wallach, David Orson 
Wallach, Mercedes and Jacob Andreas