Writer, stage director, producer, and storyteller Dudley Cocke will discuss nonprofit theater in the United States as part of the spring 2011 Community Voices series co-sponsored by the Virginia Tech Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships

Cocke, artistic director of the Roadside Theater, will present “Art and Democracy: Aspects of a People’s Theater” at 4 p.m. on March 31 at the Lyric Theater in Blacksburg.

A 2002 recipient of the Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities, Cocke views nonprofit theater as “a powerful element” in democratic discourse. The Roadside Theater was founded in 1975 as a part of Appalshop, a multimedia arts and education organization in Whitesburg, Ky.

Beth Obenshain, founding director of the New River Land Trust, will speak on April 21 at 4 p.m. at the Lyric Theater.  The New River Land Trust is a local non-profit organization formed to protect farmland, forests, open spaces, and historic places in the New River Valley.

The events are free and open to the public.

The theme for the 2011 Community Voices series is Creative Leadership for Community Resilience and Innovation. The first speaker in the series was Anthony Flaccavento, an organic farmer who founded Appalachian Sustainable Development. Each of the three Community Voices speeches will be recorded and made available to the public through the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance website.

The Community Voices series is sponsored by the Virginia Tech Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships; Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance; The Community Foundation of the New River Valley; SustainFloyd; Virginia Tech Alliance for Social, Political; Ethical, and Cultural Thought; Planning, Governance & Globalization Program of Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs; and Virginia Cooperative Extension

Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs supports the university’s engagement mission by creating community partnerships and economic development projects, offering professional development programs and technical assistance, and building collaborations to enrich discovery and learning – all with the overarching goal of improving the quality of life for people within the commonwealth and throughout the world. Outreach and International Affairs leads Virginia Tech’s presence on five continents; its regional research and development centers across the commonwealth focus on graduate education and professional development. Blacksburg-based centers are dedicated to student engagement, language, policy, and governance.

Share this story