Build it and they will come.

At 7:05 pm on Friday, May 3 , I was counting on that adage  to reduce my worry about attendance at the Open MIC event Rita and I had planned with a start time of  7:00 pm. Only one 15 year old young  man had shown up for the first Open MIC scheduled by the Austin Art Council( and Third Unitarian Church ( All of Austin had been invited to participate and enjoy.

At 7:15pm I was ecstatic when 10 people of varying ages walked in the door. That flow would continue until we reached 40 people.

Through the use of black drapes, lighting, a DJ and tablescapes, we converted a community room into an intimate café. As MC for the evening, I called for “creatives” to take the stage. I offered the audience two options: perform or listen to my vaudevillian one-liners, punctuated with a duck call horn.

For 90 minutes, all were able to share an experience with talented neighbors. Seven creatives heeded the call: one playwright, Daryl Satcher; a visual artist, Shirley Hudson: a singer, Ron McCowan; three storytellers, Kucha, Baba Tony and Rita Maniotis; a young poet who wrote his poem while waiting for his turn.

The performers took the audience on a journey from absolute stillness and focus to clapping, foot stomping and singing along to an old spiritual. The level of creative energy rose over the course of the evening, moving the audience to inquire about the next date.

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