Greetings from “Courageous,”
1/2 of the Spoken Word Duo – I.N.K.
As we turn the page on a new year, I wanted to share a bit about a few of the benefits of creating and maintaining a space for self-expression on campus; a regularly-occurring Open Mic Night.
I know, I know… you’ve tried this before and… I get it… but just hear me out for a minute!
The benefits of successfully carrying out this event monthly, we believe, pay big dividends when it comes to gaining traction promoting your activities board’s upcoming events, building a closer community, and offering what we like to call a “Brave Space” for your students to express themselves and have their voices heard.
There can be no feeling more frustrating than planning an event with your activities board semesters in advance; those sleepless nights leading up to the event, the to-do lists, the checklists, the meetings, the emails, the emails that should have been meetings, the meetings that could have been emails – Finally, the day has arrived! You’ve set up a hundred chairs, stuffed hundreds of tiny items in swag bags, set out dozens of cookies, skewered hundreds of tiny cheese cubes with those frilly toothpicks, poured gallons of juice and ice in that clear plastic leaky dispenser thingy, and you’re finally…prepared! You check your fit, take a deep breath, swing open those doors… only to let 7 of your fellow students in to experience this magic you planned for literally hundreds of them.
While I know you are appreciative of those 7 students who did show up, and you’re totally willing to shower them with all the swag your activities board purchased and trays of cookies and pastries they get to take back to the dorm, you’re feeling pretty deflated by the fact that all your hard work and all the passion you’ve poured into an event you KNOW your fellow students would enjoy or benefit from, it’s all for (almost) nothing.
This is why we are huge proponents of an Open Mic – a monthly, bi-weekly, weekly (whatever your capacity), low-stakes event that spotlights the talent on your campus, gives students a platform to share and be heard, and continually builds attendance based on content, if done with intentionality.
Imagine for a moment, an event so consistent, you barely even have to advertise it… “Every First Friday” or “Every Second Wednesday.” Students just know to be at this spot on campus – the Coffee Spot, the Cereal Bar, the University Center – and you’ve set up for them a mic and a stage. A student who attended last semester volunteered to bring their DJ equipment, and now you’ve set a whole vibe. Earlier in the semester, you had feature poets (like I.N.K.) come to kick it all off with a performance and writing workshop, and now you’re consistently expecting a crowd of 75-100 of your fellow students, all anxiously awaiting to hear from your campus’s best poets, singers, comedians and storytellers – it’s become a show. It’s become something more than the sum of its parts. It’s become community… and that, friends, is what it’s all about.
We promise, you’ll recognize it the moment it happens. You’ve noticed your classmates are even more excited about the event as you are. Your “regulars” have developed their own unique way of welcoming new performers. The vibe is encouragement. Students from different majors, cliques, and walks of life all give each other that ‘nod and faint smile’ thing when they pass one another on campus. All you hear the day of the event is, “you comin’ tonight?!” Your most reserved classmates are walking – no, strutting – to the mic with this newly found confidence and blowing minds with the thoughts they never used to share. Your audience silences their phones and forgets to even check them throughout the entire evening! (Ok… that’s a bit much, but we can dream, can’t we?) Now we’re even spotting our Open Mic audience members and their friends at all our activities because… iykyk.
This could be your event; consistent, curated, and enjoyable, with space created for the purpose of sharing and engaging; hearing others beliefs, struggles, joys, experiences, thoughts, and feelings. We’ve learned, throughout the years we’ve been touring this country, that poetry saves lives; performing changes lives. Having a place to share and receive this art makes all the difference to someone struggling with mental health, someone yet to feel welcomed, someone who simply needs to be heard; and you (yes, you!) can create this space with little more than a bit of guidance, a microphone, and a decent sounding speaker (Pro Tip: Never skimp on sound!).
If you’d like to know more about how to make this a reality on your campus, hit us up at Neon Entertainment for more details, and follow us on ‘the gram’ @inkspokenword to come along for the ride!
Never be afraid to Shine,
Contact Us for your Spoken Word Programming Needs: