Jenny Van West

Through the simple acts of saying hello and giving one guitar in 2015, the grassroots IMC Portland (Immigrant Music Connection) and the International Open Mic at Mayo Street were born. Now based at Studio 224, Jenny Read Van West's professional teaching space in the heart of Portland, Maine's most linguistically diverse neighborhood, the IMC builds community through music with people seeking asylum who do not yet have work authorization. The IMC finds guitars, keyboards, and other instruments, offers free lessons, and engages volunteers and donors while educating them about immigration issues. Van West also produces the widely-loved, cross-cultural, open platform International Open Mic at local nonprofit theater Mayo Street Arts three times a year; performance priority is given to recent immigrants and their families. Van West is also Program Coordinator for DocSong Portland's pilot project involving recent immigrants in co-writing documentary songs ( She is a 2023 recipient of an Artist Grant from the Maine Arts Commission to build a small professional-quality recording studio to use in her work.

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