Members of the Shop Floor Theatre Company participate in Schooled: The Groovy Projects, a theatre-based community outreach program. (Courtesy Photo | Shop Floor Theatre Company)

Flint, MI—A new partnership between a California-based visual effects studio and a Flint nonprofit has given way to a youth talent competition with potentially life-changing prizes. 

Luma, as the VFX studio is called, working under its Legacy outreach program partnered with Flint’s Shop Floor Theatre company to design a talent competition given the name Signal Boost. The competition was created in order to highlight Genesee County’s talent and promote creativity and self-expression among its youth. 

The Signal Boost competition is open to anyone in Genesee County between the ages of 14 and 23 looking to submit the performance of an original song, rap, or spoken word poem.  Applications are open now through Sunday, Oct. 24 at midnight. To apply, visit the Signal Boost website here. 

Kate Glantz, head of Legacy at Luma, explained how the unlikely partnership between the two organizations came from a “serendipitous” situation when she was introduced to Kendrick Jones, executive director of SFTC by a mutual friend.

“I was sort of looking for a partner like him and you know, to do something like this in Los Angeles or New York, it’s been done and its sort of less exciting and special so we wanted to go somewhere that’s not typically under the spotlight for celebratory reasons and Kendrick was already doing such great work,” Glantz said. 

Glantz said part of Legacy’s mission is to establish close relationships with community organizations like SFTC. In this case, that relationship was made to “shine a light and provide a platform for young people who have something to say.” 

“Kendrick and Shop Floor have been doing this work long before we came to town obviously and so it felt like a beautiful partnership for us to both learn and grow,” Glantz said. 

She added that if the model in Flint worked out, the competition could soon be coming to other similar cities. 

Jones said he has seen firsthand the amount of talent in Flint. Unfortunately, he said, many of these talented children face barriers, often social or economic, that keep them from expressing themselves. 

“We have tons of young artists in the greater Flint area who have extraordinary talents. What they often also have are barriers that stop them from being able to express themselves. They aren’t able to say in words what they can say through music or poetry so we are working with young people to actually give them the ability to express themselves in their own words in their own way,” Jones said. 

Having the right platform, Jones said, is also crucial for kids to express their thoughts.

“Sometimes they’ll have the ability and talent to express themselves but they don’t have the money to join a program such as ours or they don’t have the exposure to get the right people coming in and listening to them,” Jones said. “So what Signal Boost has done is it’s actually bringing those resources to Flint so that our young people don’t have to go out and do that themselves.” 

Contestants will be competing for an opportunity to perform their original piece at the Signal Boost concert at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Flint. The first-place winner will receive a $2,500 cash prize along with a matching donation to a local nonprofit as well as 10 hours of studio time with Detroit-based producer, Helluva. 

For more information on applying, eligibility and prizes, you can visit the Signal Boost website here. 

Santiago Ochoa is Flint Beat's Latinx Community reporter. He is always looking to write about anything Flint or Latinx. He especially enjoys investigative reporting and human-interest stories. A communications...

One reply on “Talent competition offers big rewards for Flint area youths”

  1. A lot of older folks have a lot of talent also and need to be allowed to be in this competition–like me! I can dance, play basketball, draw very well, write stories very well. Older folks want to get discovered also and get life changing prizes. Why be limited to just youths up to age 23??? This is unfair to older folks and lots of stuff like this are just for the kids! Adults are at risk too!! Let this talent competition be open for EVERYONE! Age does not matter!

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