New Roaring Fork Valley nonprofit uses the arts to give young people a voice |

New Roaring Fork Valley nonprofit uses the arts to give young people a voice

Teaching artist Myrlin Hepworth (right) working with Basalt High School students on their original bilingual production "Panic."
Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

What: ‘Panic,’ presented by Voices

Where: Basalt High School Auditorium

When: Thursday, March 16, 7:30 p.m.

How much: $10 suggested donation

Tickets: Available at the door

More info:

A new Roaring Fork Valley nonprofit is using the arts to help young people make their voices heard.

On Thursday, the nascent Voices is staging “Panic” at Basalt High School. The original work features original monologues, music, poetry, dance and puppetry — all performed and created by 20 high school students.

It’s the second pilot project for Voices, which is based out of the Third Street Center in Carbondale.

“The cornerstone is multidisciplinary arts, bringing students who resonate with visual arts into a room with those who are into music or writing,” said Voices artistic director Renee Prince. “The unique piece of this is that we’re not starting with a script that someone else has written.”

The new nonprofit was born out of conversations that Prince had with Voices founder Barbara Reese while the pair was working on Aspen Words’ poets-in-schools program (Prince was an Aspen Words staffer and Reese a board member). They hoped to help build empathy among young people by using poetry in addition to dance, theater, music, painting and drawing.

“This organization is really the result of that vision to give people a stage — or a blank page, or a microphone — to really amplify voices that we might not be hearing in our community,” Prince said.

Poet and hip-hop artist Myrlin Hepworth, who has become a familiar face in local schools in recent years through the Aspen Words program, has been working with students on “Panic” for the past two weeks in what Voices calls a “creative colLABoratory” at Basalt High. Like the Aspen Words poetry program, Voices is bilingual — using both English and Spanish.

In the first Voices project, which ran late last year with 70 fifth graders in Carbondale, students interviewed locals about changes and challenges they’ve dealt with in their lives. They then wrote narratives of their own based on those interviews.

Voices is planning a similar storytelling project in Carbondale this fall. Prince said they hope to soon partner with schools in Glenwood Springs and in Aspen as the organization launches more pilot projects.

“We’re prioritizing deep, sort of investigative work with students,” Prince said.

Entering the glutted world of local nonprofits, Voices is focusing on collaboration rather than competition with organizations that have similar goals.

“We’re well aware of how many nonprofits exist in this valley,” Prince said. “One of our core values is partnership and sharing resources.”

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