John Brown University Hosts Annual Giving Voice Festival Over 200 High School Students from Tri-State Area to Attend

John Brown University will host the annual Giving Voice Festival of Writing and the Arts on Thursday, Sept. 24 and Friday, Sept. 25 for both JBU students and over 200 high school students from Oklahoma, Kansas and Northwest Arkansas.

“Giving Voice gives students in the region a unique opportunity to explore one of our greatest gifts: creativity,” said Jessica Wilson, assistant professor of English at JBU and coordinator of the festival. “Participating in the arts inspires us to create a fuller, more beautiful picture of the world.”

The festival, supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, welcomes distinguished nonfiction writer Andrea Dilley, novelist Jonathan Friesen, Oklahoma Poet Laureate Ben Myers and singer/songwriter Andrew Belle to share their art and lead workshops for students.

The festival will begin on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 10:30 a.m. in the Cathedral of the Ozarks where Andrea Dilley and Andrew Belle will perform their work and discuss the importance of the arts. The event is free and open to the public.

JBU will also host artistic readings on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Simmons Great Hall and a concert with performer/songwriter Andrew Belle in the Walker Student Center at 7:30 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

On Friday, Sept. 25, area high school students will participate in a variety of workshops at JBU’s Siloam Springs campus including nonfiction writing, poetry, songwriting, playwriting, improvisation, film, calligraphy and screen printing. The students will share their completed work at a closing assembly at the end of the day.

“Many of these students have never explored this kind of creativity,” said Jan Lauderdale, instructor of theatre and Giving Voice workshop facilitator. “It gives me joy watching them discover new things. They light up.”

For more information on the festival, visit