The poetry, essay and mural design contests share a common theme based on a quote by Cesar Chavez on the importance of community service: "We can choose to use our lives for others to bring about a better and more just world for our children. People who make that choice will know hardship and sacrifice — in giving of yourself you will discover a whole new life full of meaning and love."
Selected poems and essays will be published in a souvenir program of the event, and the winning poet will receive a cash prize. Selected muralists will receive a cash stipend to paint their design on one of several public spaces in the Valley — at least one location each in El Centro, Brawley and Calexico.
The 60-second video contest entries will be filmed by Steve Mellow, producer of "Imperial Valley Kids TV News," at a clinic-style workshop. A camera and technical crew will be available from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday at the OPOP to film all who have an idea they want to showcase in a digital format. Drop by and sing a song or recite your favorite poem or create an original short film. All featured videos will be screened several times during conference events, including during the intermission of the two main events — the final round of the "Spring Into Stardom" talent show 6 p.m Friday at the OPOP and a public concert and performance at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Southwest Performing Arts Theatre in El Centro.
A number of entertainment industry professionals will be in the audience at each event, so it is definitely a chance to be "discovered."
As an extension of the conference, and in keeping with the contest's theme, Youth Empowerment and the Imperial County Office of Education are coordinating a number of special community service projects through the end of the month. A calendar of "opportunities" is posted at the OPOP and more information is available by calling 337-1777.
Saturday's conference workshops will be at Southwest High School. Many will be repeat offerings from Friday's schedule, but the Saturday program will be expanded to include at least 10 new workshops and more than a dozen panel and discussion groups devoted to the arts and entertainment industries.
Registration for Saturday's workshops will start at 9 a.m. Saturday at Southwest. For advance registration, call 335-3760.
The weekend-long conference wraps up Sunday with Gospel Explosion 2001, a day-long series of workshops and activities that culminate with a dinner and gospel music concert at 7 p.m. at the OPOP.
Admission for Gospel Explosion 2001 is $10. Call 335-3760 for ticket information.
The Imperial Valley Arts & Entertainment Youth Conference is sponsored by Youth Empowerment, Radio Bilingue 88.7 FM KUBO, the Imperial County Arts Council and various local businesses, and is funded by a generous grant from Neighborhood House in support of the Cesar Chavez 2001 Project.
On Saturday, Galeria Fronteriza will continue its impressive outdoor art gallery installation alongside the Casa de la Cultura, just east of the main border crossing in Mexicali. An all-day event, the gallery features large paintings by more than two dozen artists. The installation is visible from a car as you drive past the site, but it is definitely worth the few extra minutes to park (or walk across the line) and view the paintings up close.