“Pass the Mic” creates space to share art and voices


GVL / Bethann Long

Steven Lawrence, Staff Writer

On Nov. 4 an event called “Pass the Mic” was held at the Wealthy Theatre venue. The event highlighted diverse artists including BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals. 

This first-ever presentation of Pass the Mic worked to give space to these groups and present the different mediums of art that each artist uses. The event showcased community artists where performers brought dance, music, poetry and other performance styles to the stage. 

Shayna “Akanke” Marie worked on the “Pass the Mic” project and is now the curator and host of the event. She partnered with Grand Rapids Media Initiative & Film Incubator (GR-MiFi), a non-profit dedicated to narrative justice that gives voice to commonly underrepresented communities, to help bring the showcase to life. 

“I decided to bring this platform under the GR-MiFi umbrella after supporting their work and their mission for the last 2 years. This move was intentional because GR-MiFi is building an ecosystem of BIPOC media talent, and Pass the Mic will be considered a GR-MiFi initiative moving forward,” said Marie.

Marie said that the range of performances created a very eclectic and diverse showcase of talent from people from diverse backgrounds. She wanted to give BIPOC and LGBTQ performers a chance to express themselves in whatever way they wish. 

The showcase highlighted 15 different artists who all had their own performance styles. Some of the performances included a guest DJ, visual artists, poetry readings, musical performances both instrumental and vocal, dancing and a rap cipher.

Marie said she hopes that the showcase will uplift artists and focus on organic and grassroots talent. She wants to give people a platform for their message and art styles.

The showcase was run the Grand Rapids Media Initiative and Film Incubator and other volunteers, which made it so that all proceeds could go back to the artists. Marie also said that artists were able to sell their own merchandise at the show in order to help them expand their connections in the community.  

Additionally, the showcase had tables with information about similar events and other artists in the community. The event also had vendors from the local BIPOC community. These vendors included “Savor the Flavor” and “Mama D’s Kitchen.” 

For future events, Marie hopes that within the next year they can start doing Pass the Mic on a regular basis, with multiple performances. She hopes this will create a space to showcase artists from many different walks of life.

Marie said that in future showcases they want to continue to present a wide range of artists and performance art. Marie encourages people to engage with the performers and herself, whether they are an audience member or a potential future performer. 

More information on Pass the Mic and future performances can be found on the event’s Facebook page and Instagram @passthemicgr.  Marie said that people who are interested in being a vendor or performer for the future events can be found on linktr.ee/passthemicgr. The linktr.ee also has information about the features and vendors from the first event as well.