Open Mic Reflections

We are proud to say that our first “Speak Your Truth” open mic showcase on the Tier One Stage presented 20 exciting and talented artists. The nurturing and energetic crowd gave me life. Everyone was super chill and the vibe was impeccable. It was so amazing to have been a part of this small yet big event.

“The best part of this experience was actually making the theatre accessible and open to the entire community and not just to the ticket-buying/concert-going demographic. It allowed for an entirely new community to come out and experience the theatre,” says Development Manager, Bryan Fuentes.

On the day of the event, I woke up to 150 emails with suggestions on what needed to happen for this event to be a success. Okay, only five emails, but it was still plenty. Throughout the day, I was advised by various colleagues: build a stage, add more VIP tickets, hire a server. The thoughts running through my head were overwhelming, however, I knew I was capable of the unexpected.

The best part about having a great team is when the going gets tough, they continue to have your back and push you forward. I got a call from Youth Advisory Board member Bobby, “Shakeea don’t worry about the stage. I got it approved.” Bobby and I both knew that we were going to make this happen by any means necessary, and we met with Concert Career Pathways graduate David Rogers earlier than everyone else’s call times to make it happen.


It was crazy being in the moment and seeing everything falling in place. The good, the bad, and the ugly came together, and a beautiful event was born. I am so grateful to everyone that contributed to the process. “Speak Your Truth” was a success because everyone was allowing their true selves to manifest in the event. When I spoke with Phillip Katague, a former Concert Career Pathways intern and the assistant to our General Manager, he agreed with the event’s success:

“I think there is a lot of potential for these events on multiple levels. It was empowering for all the young people who performed and it was great that we were able to provide a platform for them to express themselves and share their music. It was the perfect example of how we can use our resources to build up and give back to our community, which is one of our core goals here at The UC Theatre.”

Special thanks to my intern Stage Manager, Jessica Jimenez, for adopting a job she’s never done and truly rocking out with me from the planning process until the end of the show.

Shakeea T. Smith
Education Coordinator and Office Manager