SAVANNAH, GA – EMBARGOED June 24, 2021 – Today, Savannah VOICE Festival (SVF) announces a partnership with Savannah’s Deep Center which offers an innovative initiative to middle- and early high-school students, focusing on the literary aspect of songwriting. Throughout the year of the pandemic, Deep’s teaching artists and project managers helped students write poetry set to music. In keeping with Deep’s theme of “Health,” in 2020, students were asked to consider their mental and physical health with regards to current events such as Black Lives Matter and COVID-19 and to integrate their responses into poems.
This initiative is led by Chad Sonka, Education and Outreach Co-Ordinator for the VOICE programs and students worked online with SVF composers in real time to turn these poems into songs. Both organizations are excited that as pandemic restrictions ease that these programs will be performed.
“Deep’s slogan is ‘Our Stories Matter,’ which I think is great!” Sonka said. “We want to be sure these stories are heard and become a snapshot of what these kids have been through and are still going through. The collaboration has been enlightening to all involved: poet, composer and audience.”
Deep Center’s Block by Block program will host their end-of-the-year block party from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 26 at the Hudson Hill Community Garden. This event, which is free and open to the public, will feature spoken word and dance performances inspired by personal, family, and community health. Tours of the community garden will be offered during the event.
This block party marks the culmination of a year-long process of research and creative production by youth and adult artists as they focused on the complex issues of health equity in Savannah. Since October 2020, in addition to partnering with SVF, these young people have interviewed local therapists, mental health professionals, artists and yogis; created their own wellness resources, including meditation playlists and words of affirmations; and planted two community gardens in Savannah.
The mission of Deep Center is to empower Savannah’s young people to thrive as learners, community leaders, and agents of change. Through creative writing, cultural production, and art, Deep creates platforms for the city’s youth and the village of support around them, including their families and adult allies, to share stories, engage in debates, and make Savannah a more just and equitable place.
Block by Block is Deep Center’s year-long program for creative writing, research, leadership, and community-building. Each year, young artists join adult artists, allies, and community stakeholders to answer the question, “How is the community I’m living in affecting the person I’m becoming?”
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Savannah VOICE Festival is a 501(c) 3 tax exempt nonprofit arts organization in the state of Georgia. The Festival brings classical vocal excellence to the Savannah area through a two-week celebration of concerts, events and educational presentations during the month of August and throughout the year. Focusing on arts awareness and audience development in the performing arts, it offers music from opera, musical theatre and popular song. Donations are tax-deductible.
VOICExperience Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to pass on the traditions of great singing and develop new audiences for opera. Under the umbrella of The Sherrill Milnes VOICE Programs, VOICExperience continues its dedication to the quality, integrity and perpetuation of the vocal arts through life-changing intensives, performances, and community-enriching outreach events in New York, Georgia (with its sister organization, the Savannah VOICE Festival), Florida and Illinois. For more information, please visit www.VOICExperienceFoundation.org.
The Savannah VOICE Festival is supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly. GCA is a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.