NEO puts young talent in the spotlight |

NEO puts young talent in the spotlight

Anjali Figueira-Santos
Special to The Union

Having a place for young people to come together and share their talent is an incredibly important community resource.

Having a stage to showcase that talent is another.

NEO is doing a bit of both, through its Youth Center and by hosting shows every night at the Tumbleweed Stage at the Nevada County Fair. Those who stopped by were able to watch young artists like London Wallis showcasing original pieces and popular songs.

“I love the (NEO) program so much; everyone is just so nice and open. It’s just honestly the greatest thing ever,” said Ariana Romaine, who has visited NEO and watched Wallis perform Thursday night.

To many middle and high school students of the Nevada City and Grass Valley area, the NEO Youth Center is the hangout. And one of the many ways it brings these kids together is through music.


The Youth Center has a full stage and over 15 musical instruments, all made available on Wednesday drop-in hours. Here kids can practice and teach each other how to play, and bands can rehearse.

“My favorite part of seeing them interact is them being themselves, and being able to be silly and let loose — and to be honest and vulnerable with each other,” said Halli Ellis-Edwards, cofounder of NEO and director of programs.

In addition to this workspace, NEO schedules young musicians to play at events such as farmers markets, as well as the Nevada County Fair.

On stage, these teens are able to share and express their music, and get their names out into the community.

“There’s so much incredible talent,” said Lynn Skrukrud, NEO cofounder and director of operations. “There’s some really incredible young people in our community, and so it’s really important for them to have the opportunity to showcase themselves, and to really explore their passions that way.”

Visit for more information on NEO, its programs and all it offers to youth in western Nevada County.

Anjali Figueira-Santos is a Forest Charter School student and intern at The Union. Contact her at

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