Velvet Voices of Speech Competition

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The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library announces the annual Velvet Voices of Freedom Speech Competition for Iowa high school students
Honoring and inspired by the example of Václav Havel

April 9, 2019, 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Václav Havel was a civil activist of international stature, president first of Czechoslovakia and then of the Czech Republic, and an award-winning author. Havel wrote plays, poetry, and speeches that still inspire millions today. The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library seeks to honor this incredible man and his many diverse talents by initiating the annual Velvet Voices of Freedom Speech Competition. Havel led the people of Czechoslovakia through the Velvet Revolution where they peacefully overthrew communism, and then he led the people through the Velvet Divorce where they peacefully separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The intention of the competition is to celebrate the incredible power of human passion expressed through speech to transform the world.

For our first year of the speech competition, all entries must be taken from works by Havel. For his complete works, please utilize the The Václav Havel Library Digital Archive or visit the Skala Bartizal Library at the NCSML to talk with our Director of Libraries, who can help you select a piece!

The Prize will include a $750 scholarship for the winning student to take to the college or university where they are admitted upon graduating high school, and a $500 prize to be awarded to their school speech department in their honor. A winner from each category will be selected in the morning, and those winners all will compete in the afternoon for the Prize. For group performances, the scholarship will be split amongst the participants.

All categories will be judged according to Iowa High School Speech Association rules and by IHSSA-certified judges.

To register email Sarah Henderson at with the category, student’s name, and title of their performance piece.


Acting, Public Address , Poetry, Prose, Lit Program, Ensemble acting, Choral reading, Readers Theatre

Sponsored by: Generous donations from Sharon Curtis and David and Jody Filipi.