Fuel for the Fire: Lane Arts Council Grant Funds Wordcrafters and Minority Voices Theatre Collaboration

Wordcrafters receives $2,500 Community Arts Project grant to create Dec. 10 performance

Lane Arts Council recently granted $2,500 to local non-profit writing organization, Wordcrafters, in an effort to expand StoryHelix, a community storytelling project.

StoryHelix emerged in 2020 from conversations between Wordcrafters’ Leah Velez and Daryll Lynne Evans, and community members including Eric Richardson, Eric Braman, and more, with the goal of making Eugene a braver, safer, more beautiful, and more equitable place to live. This storytelling project encourages every Lane County resident to tell their story, and examine their “eugene-eology,” with special care for marginalized and underserved populations within Lane County, whose stories have been historically and systematically ignored, suppressed, or erased. 

Each year, StoryHelix selects a different theme to serve as a guide for people who share their stories–either through a recorded interview or a written account. These stories are made into a podcast “mixtape,” which is then released at the end of the year.

This year’s theme is Rekindling.

Participants have the option of three different groups of questions to answer when submitting their responses: lighting a candle, stoking the ashes, or gathering kindling. “Lighting a candle” focuses on themes of grief and loss; “stoking the ashes” focuses on people’s connections to their ancestors; and “gathering kindling” focuses on people’s evolving communities and social interactions since COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. 

The $2,500 grant from Lane Arts Council will go towards taking six to 12 stories and developing performance pieces in conjunction with Minority Voices Theatre based on these stories. Minority Voices Theatre’s Stanley Coleman and Carol Dennis will direct and produce the show, recruiting  multiple actors and musicians,the original storyteller, Wordcrafters staff, and volunteers to create each unique performance piece, all of which will run for an estimated hour and fifteen minutes. These performance pieces are envisioned as a mixture of dramatic readings, music and dance routines, and other creative interpretations. 

A pre-show celebration will offer places for attendees to listen to the StoryHelix mixtape. Afterward, audience members will be invited to tell their own stories at interview booths and mingle with the cast and storytellers from the mixtape.

This grant makes it possible for Wordcrafters to amplify the voices and stories of so many people who may have never shared these intimate parts of themselves before. Moreover, it enables the collaboration between Wordcrafters and Minority Voices Theatre, which will bring a truly spectacular storytelling performance to the Eugene community! 

The performance and celebration will be open to the public with sliding-scale tickets, and take place in an ADA accessible space. Transcriptions will also be available for d/Deaf and hard of hearing folks in the audience. 

Finding a sense of belonging

Not everyone is a writer. StoryHelix, Wordcrafters’ community storytelling program, let Jeff Velez share his story of belonging in a way that worked for him.
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