The story of the New London Talent Show is incredible and inspiring. The show was born out of a heartbreaking tragedy that left the city gravely wounded, but through the efforts of Curtis Goodwin, Frank Colmenares and many others, it brought together young musicians, singers, dancers, poets, spoken word artists and others and – to the surprise of many – repeatedly sold out the 1,400-seat Garde Arts Center.
After the pandemic sidelined the show for the past two years, it’s exciting to learn that it will be live at The Guard again in June. The show’s organizers are accepting online audition submissions through March 27, and then will choose a pool of applicants to show up for the live auditions.
Despite this great news, this year’s event will also be bittersweet. Organizers have announced that this will be the last year for the show which debuted in 2011.
New London was left in pain and struggling with negative stereotypes and racist attitudes after the murder of Matthew Chew, 25, in October 2010. The young man who grew up in Ledyard was an artist and DJ who also worked as a cook at 2Wives. . He was living in New London because of its vibrant arts scene and was returning home from his restaurant job when he was fatally attacked by six young men.
Amid numerous post-murder public forums in which residents railed against the city, Goodwin, Colmenares and others found a way to turn the pain into a positive by showcasing talent and providing a community outlet. to local young people. The talent show grew to encompass young people from across the region, but remained focused on celebrating diversity and community.
The show highlighted the commonalities between city and suburban youth, brought together many adult volunteers, and gave many young artists a head start in their careers and lives.
The entire inspiring story of the show’s creation is told in the award-winning documentary “These People”. The documentary, directed by The Day’s multimedia director Peter Huoppi and produced by Huoppi and Goodwin, has been screened several times at La Garde, including as part of its ongoing winter film series.
While we’re disappointed that 2022 is the final year of the talent show, we’re also looking forward to what’s next for young people in the region. Goodwin, who is director of youth and community engagement at the Guard, promises that he, the Guard and other community partners will continue to mentor, mentor and provide more opportunities for young people to the region. Goodwin told Day reporter Greg Smith this month that work was already underway to provide professional development for more young artists.
“I don’t expect to see what people are used to next year,” Goodwin said. “The New London Talent Show is evolving. We need to offer more. I think providing opportunities for young people from all walks of life – young people at risk and young urbanites – will always be a focus.”
The New London Talent Show has been a huge success for a decade. This is a spectacular display of talent and community outreach of which the region should be extremely proud. As we anticipate the final show, we also look forward to the next chapter in the important work of celebrating and bringing together the young people of the region.
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