A group of four students stand at music stands and microphones as an engineer faces them, adjusting a microphone. A computer monitor on the left shows a face in an online meeting.

Blind Youth Audio Project 2023

A student wearing glasses and a baseball cap sits holding an ukulele, a microphone in front of him.For this year’s Blind Youth Audio Project, we welcomed blind and visually impaired students from across the state into our studios for a series of in-person music and radio theater workshops.

During the opening session of the 2023 Blind Youth Audio Project, a group of 24 students worked with Jack Straw’s artist team of audio engineers, musicians, vocal coaches, and writer to create two flash dramas and learn about the program. After all participants introduced themselves, the group listened to past Blind Youth drama and music productions. Then, the group divided into three teams to record two PSAs, as well as original music to accompany the PSAs.

The first group produced “Service Animals Are Allowed Anywhere” in Studio 1 with engineer Ayesha Ubayatilaka and producer Carlos Nieto, with Jesse Minkert and vocal coach Brenda Arellano joining via Zoom. The second group worked on “The Bus Thing” in Studio 2 with engineer Daniel Guenther and vocal coach Gin Hammond. The third group worked with musician Bill Horist and studio intern Erin Shellman, with musician Jessica Lurie joining via Zoom, to compose original music to accompany the two PSAs.

For the rest of the program, students broke into two groups to work with our radio theater team and music team.

Arushi, Channon, Eli, Jake, Jieke, and Michelle created the radio play “The Way Out” in collaboration with Jesse, Daniel, Carlos, and Gin, and with music by Bill and Jessica.


Charlie, Teddy, and Theo combined to form the band Signal Fire, and created the song “Imperfect Circle” in collaboration with Bill, Jessica, and Ayesha.


The Blind Youth Audio Project 2023 was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center and Arts and Visually Impaired Audiences, in partnership with the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind. Our production team included Jack Straw audio engineers Daniel Guenther and Ayesha Ubayatilaka, producer Carlos Nieto, writer and drama coach Jesse Minkert, vocal coaches Brenda Arellano and Gin Hammond, musicians Bill Horist and Jessica Lurie, interns Max Mehalchin and Erin Shellman, web designer Levi Fuller, and Project Director Joan Rabinowitz.

Special thanks to Janet George and Matthew Hines with the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind, and Jesse Minkert with Arts and Visually Impaired Audiences.

Our programs for youth with disabilities are made possible with support from the Rodrigues Fund, Jubilation Foundation Fund of the Tides Foundation, ArtsWA, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, 4Culture/King County Lodging Tax, and individual contributors.

This program was provided in part under a contract with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.


Portrait of Brenda Arellano

Brenda Arellano

Brenda Arellano is a performer and devisor based in Oakland after almost a decade in Chicago. She was a company member with the Chicago Neo-Futurists and she recently performed…


Gin Hammond

Gin Hammond is a Harvard University/Moscow Art Theatre grad and a certified Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework™. She has performed nationally at theatres such The Guthrie, Arena Stage, The…

Bill Horist sitting, holding an electric bass, looking at a student playing electric guitar

Bill Horist

Seattle-based guitarist Bill Horist has played on dozens of records and has performed throughout North and Central America, Europe and Japan; collaborating with numerous leading lights in a beguiling…

Jessica Lurie in profile, playing flute and wearing headphones

Jessica Lurie

Seattle and Brooklyn-based Jessica Lurie is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, composer, and improviser, performing on saxophones, flute, voice, accordion and electronics. She calls on a wide range of…

Photo of Jesse Minkert

Jesse Minkert

Jesse Minkert’s work has appeared in about fifty literary journals including the Cream City Review, Confrontation, Mount Hope, the Floating Bridge Review, the Minetta Review, Poetry Northwest, Common Knowledge…