Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lao American Storyteller Festival coming to Minneapolis

On February 21st-23rd, the Lao Assistance Center will be presenting the Lao American Storytellers Festival at the Harrison Neighborhood Center at 503 Irving Avenue N. in Minneapolis, MN. The festival will include formal presentations of traditional folk tales, oral histories, worship sessions and cultural exhibits from 1pm to 4pm each day. Free and open to the public. Further schedule details will be announced on the Lao Assistance website (www.laocenter.org) and social media such as twitter: @laocenterMN.

Among the guest presenters will by Lao Minnesotan Storyteller Fellows Saymoukda Vongsay, Phouthakannha Nantharath, Sue Veerasaeng, Saphaothong Komany, and David Zander. The festival will also be presented in conjunction with Bryan Thao Worra's summit, Beyond the Other Side of the Eye: Discussions in Southeast Asian Futurism.

This activity was made possible in part by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Region Arts Council, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

In the United States there are approximately 200,000 Lao with the largest populations residing in California, Texas, and Minnesota. Minnesota has the 3rd largest Lao refugee population in the US with 12,000 to 25,000 residents. There are still many gains to be achieved in both education and the arts. Many members of the community expressed concerns regarding the preservation and transmission of traditional culture to the youth.

The Lao American Storytellers Festival is a key outcome of a year-long intensive apprenticeship program of the Lao Assistance Center to encourage the next generation of Lao American storytellers. This is the first year such a program has been implemented.

Established in 1983, the mission of the Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota (LACM) is to increase the capacity of the Lao-American population in Minnesota by responding to community-identified needs. This is done through developing programs and services to promote the well-being of families and children while retaining their cultural heritage. Later this year, many additional events are being planned to celebrate the journey of Lao Minnesotans. For further information you can call or visit the Lao Assistance Center at 503 Irving Avenue North in Minneapolis.

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