Artist News



San Bernardino, CA — Arts Connection is pleased to announce the San Bernardino County Poetry Out Loud Champion, Breen Manos from Big Bear High School. Our runner up, from W.A. Carter High School in Rialto, is William Rodriguez. The Contest was held at The Garcia Center for the Arts in San Bernardino on February 1, 2020, where we had a full house with friends, family, teachers and poetry enthusiasts. Breen will be heading to Sacramento to compete in the state finals on March 16th. The competition is presented in partnership with the California Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, and is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. 

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to the county and  state competitions, and ultimately to the national finals in Washington, DC. 

Contestants recite works they select from an anthology of more than 900 classic and contemporary poems. Students participating in the Poetry Out Loud program have benefited from educational materials created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. These standards-based curriculum materials include an online anthology, a teacher’s guide, lesson plans, and video and audio on the art of recitation. Schools are welcome to download these free resources at

This year’s competitors were from the following schools: Big Bear High School, The Grove School, and W.A. Carter High School. The contest was judged by poets Cindy Rinne, Sam Mantes, Eric DeVaughn, and Romaine Washington.

Arts Cnnection has partnered with KayJo Creatives – Natalie Graham and Keya Vance – to help coordinate and produce Poetry Out Loud across San Bernardino County. With their help, the program included a kick-off bash in November 2019, a new addition to the events related to the roll out of this celebrated program. If interested in participating in future years – it’s a free program – contact Arts Connection staff at: Programming starts in August every year; stay tuned for 2021 Poetry Out Loud details.


The state champion will receive an all-expenses-paid trip (with an adult chaperone) to compete in the national finals in Washington, DC, on April 24–25, 2018. The Poetry Out Loud national finals will present a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends, with a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion. Poetry Out Loud is a program of the following organizations:


Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. For more information, visit


The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative partnerships, prizes, and programs. For more information, visit


California’s state arts agency: advancing California through the arts and creativity. The California Arts Council builds public will and resources for the arts; fosters accessible arts initiatives that reflect contributions from all of California’s diverse populations; serves as a thought leader and champion for the arts; and provides relevant programs and services.


Arts Connection is the Arts Council for San Bernardino County, designated by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to serve as the State and Local Partner to the California Arts Council. Arts Connection is dedicated to stimulating creative and economic vitality and enriching lives throughout the communities they serve by providing support, promotion, education, and advocacy for the arts.


KayJo Creatives is an innovative media company with a mission to create community and reveal the beauty of humanity. In addition to creating a range of media deliverables for their clients, they host joyful and engaging workshops and events that empower diverse creators at all stages of development in the Inland Empire. KayJo Creatives is currently producing its first feature-length film, I, Too. The documentary highlights a series of 100 interviews with African American Men from Florida and California.  

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Office Address

The Garcia Center for the Arts
536 W. 11th Street
San Bernardino, CA 92410

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 1181

San Bernardino, CA 92402