New monthly Youth Scene Open Mic in Scranton welcomes all performing artists ages 14-20, starts Oct. 7
A common complaint in Northeastern Pennsylvania is the lack of events and venues that are open to those under 21, so NEPA Scene and the Breaking Ground Poets are looking to change that – at least for one night every month.
These two local organizations dedicated to the arts have announced a brand new monthly open mic night specifically for young artists of all types, ages 14-20, at the popular new coffee shop in downtown Scranton, Adezzo. Dubbed the Youth Scene Open Mic, it will be held the first Wednesday of every month, starting Oct. 7, and is open to poets, musicians, comedians, performance artists, and more.
“The open mics are designed to be safe spaces where youth can experiment with their artistic style and learn how to grow as an artist,” Breaking Ground Poets founder and director Katie Wisnosky explained.
“Performing at a youth open mic is an important source of constructive feedback. It also lets you take your art off the page and breathe life into it.”
Just as the BGP has helped local youth tell their personal stories and express themselves through poetry slams, workshops, festivals, and other events, NEPA Scene has spent the last year publishing and publicizing the stories of local artists – particularly undiscovered and up-and-coming talent – and providing a public stage for performances of all kinds in the form of the area’s only multi-genre open mic talent competition, NEPA Scene’s Got Talent.
During the continued success of Got Talent, NEPA Scene founder and editor Rich Howells has worked hard to bring different factions of the local arts and entertainment scene together and unify them, and throughout that time, he became much more aware of just how important open mics are for both established and emerging performers to perfect their craft. While these 12-week events at Thirst T’s Bar & Grill in Olyphant are open to those under 21, they must be accompanied by a legal guardian and the show runs until at least 11 p.m. on school nights, so this new open mic will cater to those in their teens and early 20s looking for the same creative outlet in a quieter and less competitive environment at an earlier time slot.
“One of my favorite things about our events is watching a timid artist step up onstage unsure of himself or herself one week and coming offstage a proud and confident performer just a few weeks later. Stage time is so important, so we want to give these young people that opportunity in a friendly and open space surrounded by their peers,” Howells said.
“Most open mics in the area are held in bars and geared towards older crowds, but many talents typically develop at an early age, so why not let artists gain that experience now? NEPA Scene has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to finding new local talent, so the Youth Scene Open Mic not only allows us to team up once again with one of the best youth organizations in NEPA, but also to meet the next generation of artists who will shape the local scene and feature them long before anyone else.”
Howells will host each event and serve as an artistic mentor to those seeking guidance, along with Wisnosky and other volunteers. NEPA Scene will provide coverage of every open mic and professional photos of all the performers on nepascene.com, which anyone can opt out of if they prefer.
“In order to keep this important community space available and organizations like the Breaking Ground functioning, it is important to build this space together through positive adult support and the voice of emerging youth artists,” Wisnosky emphasized.
“Most importantly, allowing youth to have their own platform will further strengthen and build the community of emerging teen artists in NEPA.”
Sign-ups are at 6 p.m., and 15 slots are available. Each performer is allotted 5-8 minutes at the mic, and while there is no censorship, racist, sexist, homophobic, or oppressive language will not be tolerated so that everyone can feel comfortable. All ages are welcome to attend, and while no one who is over 21 will be turned away if they wish to perform, the focus of the night will be on the younger artists. Sign-ups are on a first-come, first-served basis, and the event will wrap up by 8:30 p.m.
When asked just one month ago, Adezzo (515 Center St., Scranton) embraced the idea and generously agreed to house the monthly open mic immediately. Coffee, tea, juice, and snacks will be available for purchase throughout the evening, so while the event itself is free, organizers encourage attendees to support the venue in kind.
“We can’t wait to get started and see who comes out and what they’ll bring to enrich the local arts scene,” Howells said.
“If you want a new glimpse into NEPA’s creative future, look no further than the Youth Scene Open Mic.”
Learn more about the Breaking Ground Poets in Episode 19 of the NEPA Scene Podcast.