LA Times Festival of Books Seeks Artists, Musicians, Photographers and Poets to Enter 'INSPIRE US' Contest; Deadline 4/1

LA Times Festival of Books Seeks Artists, Musicians, Photographers and Poets to Enter 'INSPIRE US' Contest; Deadline 4/1

Comedians, musicians, artists, photographers and poets are invited to enter "INSPIRE US," a new LA Times Festival of Books contest that makes it possible to make the leap from audience to stage at the 19th annual event, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, April 12-13, on the USC campus.

After 18 years of increasing popularity, this celebration of ideas, creativity, and the written word expands with an extraordinary array of new elements, including "INSPIRE US," which invites comedians, musicians, artists, photographers and poets to enter for a chance to have their work seen by the Festival's 150,000 attendees.

Deadline is April 1, 2014, at 5 p.m. PDT. Free contest entry and rules are found at http://events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/inspiration/.

As always, the Festival of Books weekend also features authors, performers, readings, cooking demonstrations, film screenings and aisles of booksellers and exhibitors. Among the other new elements:

· FESTIVAL AFTER DARK extends the Festival into the evening hours with a live performance of American Public Media's Wits featuring special guests MARGARET CHO, SUPERCHUNK AND WILL SHEFF (of Okkervil River), who will join host John Moe for an evening of improv, sketch comedy, conversation and music as the popular public radio program is recorded for air. Saturday, April 12, 8:00 p.m., Bovard Auditorium, USC.

· In a nod to the Southland's thriving fine art community, the Festival will include ARTISTS' ROW, a hand-selected group of artists from several genres creating installations live on site. And, they will be joined by one aspiring creator discovered through "Inspire Us."

· LA TIMES PHOTO POP-UP GALLERY: the award-winning Times visual storytelling team will be showcasing recent work, with a spot reserved for an "Inspire Us" shutterbug.

· POP & HISS STAGE: in collaboration with Spaceland Presents, this year's music stage will host a variety of emerging bands as well as an artist and emcee selected through the "Inspire Us" music and comedy submissions.

· POETRY STAGE: one of literature's oldest art forms and the Festival's longest-running stages will get a hit of street style with an "Inspire Us"-picked performance poet.

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is presented in association with USC and major sponsor Chevrolet. Centrally located on USC's University Park Campus adjacent to Exposition Park, the Festival is free and open to the public. Festival Passes, which provide early access to reserved seating in up to eight Conversations, and Book Prizes tickets are currently on sale; Times members are offered a discount on Festival Passes. Individual Conversation tickets become available on April 6. Schedule, location, ticket and transportation information can be found on the Festival website, Facebook page and Twitter feed (#bookfest). Festival After Dark tickets, on sale now, are $33.50 to $65. http://events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/

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