October 24, 2016
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"Poetry Slam" Contest Highlights Minority Artists

LOS ANGELES - Youth Speaks Inc., the nation's leading spoken word organization, is bringing its 13th Annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival to Los Angeles from July 19 to 24.  Convening the top young poets and spoken word artists, aged 13-19, from across the United States and internationally, Brave New Voices 2010 will feature a diverse group of young writers, trendsetters and community and cultural leaders, as well as world-class workshops led by renowned poets and artists.  Acclaimed hip-hop artist Common will emcee the event finals, which will be judged by Hill Harper, Rosario Dawson, and other socially conscious celebrities and community leaders.  Additionally, entertainment mogul Russell Simmons is producing a compelling new special for HBO about Brave New Voices.  As many as 1,000 youth (poets and audience members) from varied parts of the United States and beyond will take part in this one-of-a-kind event.

Having grown bigger each year since its inception in 1998, Brave New Voices presents the voices of 21st Century America and its significant demographic diversity.  The festival highlights arts education and performance, local program development and national movement organizing.  Through the multiple conference events, workshops, and spoken word competitions, a new generation of artists and leaders can transcend traditional stereotypes by speaking their truths and listening to the truths of others.  The 2008 event (and its six-month build up) was filmed by HBO and presented by Russell Simmons as part of a seven-episode series that aired in 2009.

For the 2010 event in Los Angeles and for the fourth straight year, Youth Speaks will partner with the Redford Center to present a spoken word competition on global warming as part of the Brave New Voices Festival.  Up to 15 poets will be selected to participate in the Speak Green event on Thursday, July 22 at Club Nokia.  Special guests to include Van Jones, a renowned environmental advocate whom President Barack Obama appointed as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, the Redford Center's Executive Director Lee Bycel and Tom Feegel, one of the principals behind Al Gore's seminal Live Earth global concert event.

On Saturday, July 24, the festival will feature the Brave New Teachers Conference, which will involve Youth Speaks leaders for a pedagogical and curricula exploration of the power of spoken word, using the Youth Speaks Methodology in conjunction with the seven-part HBO series about Brave New Voices.  Attendees of the four-hour professional development opportunity will receive the HBO-produced DVD, an electronic educational guide, as well as a catered lunch.

The Grand Slam Finals of the festival will be hosted at the Saban Theater (formerly the Wilshire Theater) on Friday, July 23 at7:00 p.m.  

"Brave New Voices 2010 is going to be a remarkable event that will continue to build our community among an ever-growing number of youth who are returning to literature and reinvesting in education through the power of the spoken word," said James Kass, founder and executive director of Youth Speaks. "This is a special forum that enables a generation of young artists and leaders to speak for themselves and their communities. The ideas espoused through their poetry can help change our world for the better," he added.

Russell Simmons noted, "Brave New Voices is building bridges across radically diverse ethnic, racial and socio-economic lines. This is the future of our global community, and people everywhere should take notice and get involved."

An abbreviated schedule of festival events is listed below:

  • Monday, July 19, 2010
    • Opening Ceremonies
  • Tuesday, July 20, 2010
    • Brave New Leaders Conference
  • Wednesday, July 21, 2010
    • Brave New Voices Speak Green, featuring Van Jones and Tom Feegel
    • Quarter-Finals of The Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam
  • Thursday, July 22, 2010
    • Semi-Finals of The Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam
  • Friday, July 23, 2010
    • Grand Slam Finals of The Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam (at the Saban Theater)
  • Saturday, July 24, 2010
    • Brave New Teachers Conference

Sponsors for this year's event include the Ford Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Redford Center, US Green Building Council and American Airlines.  For more information about Brave New Voices 2010, please visit www.bravenewvoices.org or contact Jeannine Schechter Jacobi at jeannine@freshpr.net.

About Youth Speaks

Founded in 1996 in San FranciscoYouth Speaks, Inc. is the leading nonprofit presenter of spoken word performance, education and youth development programs in the country.  A multi-faceted organization that understands and believes that the power, insight, creativity and passion of young people can change the world, Youth Speaks hosts a variety of arts education, youth development and presentation programs that serve thousands each year.  The organization also houses a repertory theater company that commissions and produces tours that are internationally recognized for new work in new aesthetics.  For more information about Youth Speaks, please visit www.youthspeaks.org or call (415) 255-9035.  

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