Every month, the community of Port Coquitlam organises an open mic for musicians, poets and other performers. Held at the Michael Wright Art Gallery, the event has served as an opportunity for young people to share music or poetry, and to perform in front of a crowd.

One of the organisers of the event is grade 12 student at Riverside, Jeffrey Luong, recognized at Riverside for his participation in River’s Edge theater. He is also planning a musical performance to be held by Riverside students at the Harlem Globetrotters on December 7, 2018 at the Pacific Coliseum. “As the organizer, I plan the schedule of the open mic as well as the rentals of the instruments,” said Luong. “I also take care of the advertising.”

What began as an organisation held by “Friends of Leigh Square,” a society that funds activities that aren’t spaced, the open mics have served as a monthly gathering where the youth can share their voice. “It primarily began for students who are just starting to get into music or into Spoken Word,” said Luong. “Experience is never necessary.” Because of this, students have found an area to go back to every third Friday of the month and practice their craft.

The idea for a community open mic was thought of because of the struggle teens often face towards having the time to be creative. It is evident that, during childhood, people are more creative than they’ll ever be. Between academics and having a social life, many students can’t explore their creativity as much. Also, many teens facing serious problems have often reverted to making poor choices, such as committing crimes and getting involved in substance abuse. “The youth crime rate in Port Coquitlam is ranking higher than many other places in the lower mainland,” said Luong. To draw attention away from negative activities, and to replace it instead with art and creativity is the main motivation for the event.

The open mics often bring students from various schools together. It’s become a way to make connections with other people. “We often have students from Port Moody, Terry Fox and Riverside,” said Luong. Not only can students gain inspiration from the work of others, they can also make friends.

Open mics have become a multilayered event. “It’s a way to express yourself,” said Luong. “To express your art.”