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Engaging, Changing & Saving Lives with the Performing Arts.


The Mission

There is a community where arts advocacy, social justice, and youth mentoring connectwhere young people are encouraged to take notice of the world around them and engage passionately and with purpose. The Listening, Inc aspires to be that safe place, where young people are engaged to use the performing arts to ask questions, develop answers, perform with purpose and change the world around them.

With TLI, one sole question is asked: “If you had a room full of people willing to listen to you, what would you say?”


The Vision

The Listening, Inc exists to challenge the perception of the performing arts being strictly for entertainment purposes, and connect it to its healing properties. We seek to confront lethargy, illiteracy, stagnation, and segregation, by building intentional relationships and seeking diversity in our creative expression.


"If you had a room full of people willing to listen to you...what would you say?"



In 2012, a group of friends decided to get together and do something very simple: enjoy intentional art. It wasn't enough to chat about it, but to actually pursue a greater, shared appreciation of the music and poetry they enjoyed individually. A few months later, in 2013, it was given a name, inspired by the debut album by hip-hop group Little Brother, and this platform was called "The Listening"

The idea was that people could still get together and create art and memories while also engaging with each other and learning about one another. Throughout that year, a small community began to take form, joining the creative renaissance already taking place within the city of Lynchburg, Virginia. Using the open mic format, they discussed themes like "Confessions" and "Classics".

After a brief hiatus, The Listening returned in 2014 with the theme "Legacy". Since then, the concept of creating art with intentionality and performing with passion and purpose has grown. A far cry from what it looked like in a loft-style living room session, the pursuit is still the same: to engage with people, to change people's perceptions of what performance art can do and look like, and to save lives with our stories.

The Listening is the only organization actively uniting people in the Lynchburg Area for spoken word and poetry, and we as a community must be supportive of their efforts and do everything in our power to preserve their mission.
— Jonathan Smalt, Co-Founder of Lynchstock Music and Arts Festival

Ready to help?



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