Voices Inc. celebrates record-breaking year Wednesday
Youth media education project increases impact, wins awards
Voices Inc., a local nonprofit community media project, celebrates another successful academic year with a "free fundraiser" at the Temple of Music and Art on Wednesday.
By redesigning their curriculum and moving from having one class of about 30 students per year to staggering and increasing course offerings, the program had over 120 different participants in 2009-2010.
Students received training in periodical writing and photography, radio and video production. While receiving this training, the students were paid a stipend, and many received freelance payments upon publication of their work in the Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Weekly. 85% of Voices students come from low-income families.
According to Photography Director Krista Niles, Voices' curricular changes reflect a shift in the interests of the students themselves. "Our youth was asking for more multimedia training."
And the training paid off. Not only has Voices created a permanent partnership with Arizona Public Media, who air one or two Voices-produced segments per month, the group won 8 of the 10 prizes awarded by the national MLK Video Project.
Voices also works with community radio station KXCI on its "Radio Activism" segments.
Technology has allowed for growth in the Voices curriculum. According to Niles, the ease with which students can produce a slideshow "creates whole new avenues of storytelling for us as an organization. We can combine oral histories and audio content with images in exciting ways."
Wednesday's event will include nine of the Voices students' pieces, including five readers, two video screenings, one slideshow and a replay of a KUAZ piece. There will be hors d'oeuvres and a no-host bar for the grownups, and singer/songwriter and City High teacher Amy Rude will close the program with her band, Heartbeast.
Although admission is free, Niles explains, so that the families and friends of the performers can attend, "we aim to bring awareness and, in doing so, possible fundraising opportunities."
Another arts nonprofit will be celebrating the end of its spring semester youth offerings as well; Kore Press commemorates the conclusion of its Grrls Literary Activism program for the spring with a retrospective exhibit and performance.
This year, Kore piloted one-on-one mentorships in addition to the group's workshops. This Friday, each mentee and her professional mentor (including me) will read work at the Poetry Center. The young women will also demonstrate some of the exercises and methods learned in the program, and refreshments will be served.