The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jul 22, 2013

Heartbreaking, hilarious and healing, The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers is up for Detroit People's Choice Award

Posted by Valerie Nahmad

Now through Aug. 9, five small Detroit arts organizations are vying for the Knight Arts Challenge People’s Choice Award, offering a $20,000 prize. Below, Satori Shakoor of nominee The Secret Society Of Twisted Storytellers, a curated monthly event where Detroiters tell their true stories live onstage, talks about why her group should get your vote. To see the other nominees and to text to vote, visit

Q. Why should your group win the People’s Choice Award?

 A. First of all, we are a whole lot of fun! We provide an uplifting, thought-provoking, soul-cleansing entertainment experience that is unique. Our mission is to connect humanity, heal and transform community through the art and craft of storytelling. Everyone has a story. We want real, everyday people to tell their true stories live onstage to an enthusiastic, appreciative audience. We want to give clergy, elected officials and other public figures an opportunity to relax their roles and titles and simply be human sharing a story in community. We curate people with stories so raw and revealing, so heartbreaking, hilarious and healing that they connect, move and inspire.

 The Secret Society Of Twisted Storytellers monthly events are designed to help break down racial, ethnic, gender and generational barriers. Where else can one see and hear stories from an 11-year-old girl, a high-profile ex-convict and a transgender woman all on the same stage? Anyone can participate as a storyteller, a listener, exhibitor and/or vendor. People are excited and spreading the news of the events. They look forward to coming back with friends each month. In less than a year, we have grown from 45 to 250 seats and counting with new attendees each month.

 The Secret Society Of Twisted Storytellers actively supports the re-institutionalization of storytelling as a vital and necessary component of community-building, arts and culture. Through our partnership with The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, we hope to grow, expose and contribute even more to Detroit’s rich cultural environment. Please vote for us and come tell your story to boot. Thank you!

Q. What would you do with the $20,000 prize?

 A. We have been growing with zero budget through pre-ticket sales, word-of-mouth, social media and through the generosity of volunteers and individual contributions. With the $20,000 prize, we would implement effective methods to invest and grow the money with integrity. We’d begin to fund a media campaign to attract a wider audience; launch a sponsorship campaign strategy to attract corporate sponsors; reduce out-of-pocket production costs; upgrade lighting and sound for live productions; upgrade videotaping and editing services; obtain a global live stream account; begin to fund a television pilot and documentary film;  provide transportation for the visually impaired and signers for the non-hearing community; upgrade the website; hire a part-time intern and administrative assistant; pay for legal and administrative fees; begin to provide for further outreach to educational and cultural institutions; bring world-class, international storytellers to include in the lineup of local Detroiters.

 Q. What excites you most about the creative momentum in Detroit?

A. The Secret Society Of Twisted Storytellers believes that the resurrection and rebirth of Detroit requires a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to its issues and problems. The creative momentum is exciting because it includes the ideas, participation and investment of people who live in Detroit, love the city and have a big stake in its future and success.

For more info or to learn how to vote, visit

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