A Look Back on the First Year of Mic Check

Myrlin of Phonetic Spit speaks to Mic Check participants.

It’s been a little over a year since Phonetic Spit, a unique Valley nonprofit with similar goals and values to Free Arts, partnered with us to form Mic Check, a monthly teen and young adult open mic event held at Parsons Place every third Saturday of the month.

Monique from Phonetic Spit performs a slam poem to get the show started.

Much like the Free Arts mission of transforming children’s trauma to resilience through the arts, Phonetic Spit uses creative writing, poetry, spoken word, hip-hop, theater, and performance to build hope and resilience in young people. Their curriculum emphasizes the importance of social, emotional, cultural, and academic literacy and utilizes the arts as an avenue for individual and communal healing, growth, and self-awareness.

Back in February, a staff member from Florence Crittenton, a Free Arts partner agency whose mission aims to change the futures of the girls they work with, shared her gratitude for Mic Check.

These girls weren’t going to come because some other girls weren’t allowed to come today, but I’m so glad they came,” she said. “One girl is so quiet, and never talks, but she came here and let me hear her poetry—and it was so good! If it wasn’t for this, she wouldn’t have shared her heart with me like that.”

Florence Crittenton Staff Member
Mic Check participants work on spirals in the visual arts workshop.

Casey Cole-Albertson, a Free Arts Program Coordinator, reflected on the growing camaraderie of Mic Check participants.

“Over the past year, Mic Check has become a community where teens and young adults show their vulnerability and creativity by sharing their stories while encouraging each other to be brave,” she said.

Myrlin engages with participants in the visual art workshop.

Free Arts Senior Program Coordinator, Paula Wilson, who works closely with alumni in the Free Arts Young Adult Empowerment Program, said she has seen a major transformation in many of the Mic Check participants.

“I have seen quiet children get on stage in front of other teens and adults that they barely know, but feel empowered to share a song, spoken word poetry, a personal story, or simply play a musical instrument and allow the music to be their voice,” she said. “We are offering an opportunity that every one of us deserves—the opportunity to be heard, felt, seen, and acknowledged for their bravery. These kids are brave. The space is theirs. I love this for them.”

Monique leads the spoken word workshop.

A prompt for participants in the spoken word workshop helps to inspire.

Mic Check is free and open to teens and young adults ages 14-24 and occurs every third Saturday of the month at Free Arts. Sign-in starts at 3:30 p.m. and is followed by two pre-open mic workshops that participants can choose to attend – either a visual arts workshop hosted by a Free Arts teaching artist, or a spoken word workshop hosted by Phonetic Spit. Participants can hop on the mic and share whatever art form they choose between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Caretakers are also welcome to attend and enjoy the event. Register at the link below.


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