LEAF Global Arts Gratitude Report 2020

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LEAF Junior Troupe Rwanda

Connecting cultures & creating community through music, arts education, preservation & experiences.

2020 ANNUAL GRATITUDE REPORT theLEAF.org 828.68-MUSIC 19 Eagle St, Suite 120, Asheville, NC 28801

a year's overview


up 2020. Meditation, self-care,

Donors, Partners & Community,

resilience, flexibility, Youtube and Zoom became essential tools. We pivoted into

GRATITUDE! WOW! Those were big

accelerated virtual connectivity raising

world waves. THANK YOU and I hope

our participation and access as Global

you are healthy and finding brightness


in new ways. My "bright stars" were so many of you. I have never felt more


GRATEFUL. My dedication soars for the

clarity about HOW we each stand for

LEAF community and WHY WE DO

Racial Justice, Equality and HOW we use

WHAT WE DO: CONNECT to the world,

our platforms to connect with our

each other and the BEST of our selves.

audiences. LEAF has been on this journey for years, yet we are always learning and

Siböcté: "With these songs told at night, the Awá whispers ancient words[SG1] . Old


dedicated to this path. "Together"

LEAF's 25 Year Anniversary started

became key as resources and capacity

the ancient women,

spectacularly as LEAF Jr. Troupe

were stretched. Collaborations such as

they are the healing

Rwanda got passports, 50th Festival

Global Classroom, Reimagine 2020, V-

was booked with artists, LEAF-

LEAFs and Retreat kept our mission alive

Buncombe County Schools Teachers

and planted seeds for the future.

Cohort launched and the vision came to

words were sung for

stones." * Siböcté is the ancient language of Awa (medicine man)

life.... LEAF Global Arts Center opened

Rebuilding will take time. Your support

on Valentine's Day with music, art with

was, and continues to be, ESSENTIAL to

darkness. This Mural

the historic Del Cardo feeling so alive!

Keep LEAF ALIVE to fuel the many ways

at LEAF Global of

As community roots deepened guided

LEAF touches the world by serving

by elders, our event platforms for

people and communities! LEAF values the

global artists were expanding to align

diverse global programming and unique

with our mission.

mission that has always been relevant, and is even more so in today's world, as

LOSS & LEARNING: "Together" with

we are all Global Citizens! Our 2020

many of you, as well as the music, event pivots give us confidence to step

from the time of

Bribri First Nation is by Luis Porras of Proyecto Jirondai reflecting his work for Cultural Preservation of the First Nations. He is LEAF’s coordinator

industry, there was loss of dreams,

forward into this new year safely.

finances, goodbyes to staff, and passing

Together we are making a difference in

of culture bearers Toots, Ellis and

the world and we hope to continue doing

Cabecar in

many. “Becoming comfortable with

that with you in 2021 and beyond!

Costa Rica.

uncertainty" by Pema Chodron sums

Gratitude! Jennifer Pickering

working with Bribri, Ngabe’-Bugle and


"It was great to be part of opening LEAF Global. That was AMAZING because I grew up here and The Block was always a special place for our community. It was our everything - and now we are a part of the generations who have walked this street. Having LEAF here is GREAT. Knowing that my son (the builder) helped bring back this alive from our past means so much. I can still hear the music from the past and now. I am part of LEAF through the kids, the festival and what we offer to the community. As lead teacher of LEAF Global Classroom, we are grateful for the support that allowed us to adapt. it is a good feeling to know I am part of so many good things. And, I see more good things about to happen." BOARD PRESIDENT PETE ROE "2020 brought to the forefront how important our connections are in this world. In a time when connections went virtual and physical distancing became the norm, LEAF continued to bring warmth and vibrancy into these connections despite these challenges. As we move forward into 2021, this past year and the work LEAF has done in our communities serve as reminders of the importance of connections and love that LEAF brings to them."

Jalessa Franks & Deborah Bryant

Ivory Coast

Guna Yala Panama


E A | M



REPORT CONTENT Reflection by LEAF Leaders Highlights Impact • Financials Membership & Donors LEAF Global Arts Experience Global Arts Education Learning Journeys Signature Events LEAF Leadership

Kigali, Rwanda

HIGHLIGHTS 2020 Celebrated 25th Anniversary Year! LEAF Global Arts Center Grand Opening Valentine's Day 2020! LEAF International launches Elite Steel Orchestra in St. Vincent & The Grenadines Rwanda- Zambia Cultural Exchange. LEAF International Rwandan Culture Keeper David Kwizera making his 1st trip to Zambia 34 Teachers in LEAF- Buncombe County Schools Kennedy Center Cohort LEAF’s 1st Virtual Festivals! V-LEAF May and V-LEAF October Summer Camp from A Distance with free YMCA Horizon Middle School Day Camp LEAF Global Classroom with CWA STARS youth launched in August 2020 ONEMic 1st Song Recorded & Written by CWA STARS- on YouTube Virtual LEAF Experiences! V-LEAF, We Love Love Music Nights, Music for the Movement, LEAF Lit Live Literary Showcase Collaborating w/ AAAC & City of AVL to create Black Lives Matter Mural Jawbreaking’s 1st Store LEAF's Poetry SLAM, one of the longest running slams in history, goes virtual! Reimagine 2020 in Collaboration with YMI featuring Nina Simone Tributes, Black Storytelling. Made possible by Dan Lucas Memorial Fund and NEA.

1st Place (Hall of Fame): Music-Related Nonprofit Local Music Festival Cultural or Arts Event Holiday Event (Summer/Fall)

Bequia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines Asheville, NC

Asheville NC

IMPACT 2020 Connecting cultures & creating community through music, arts education, preservation & experiences. Asheville NC











15 Resident Teaching Artists (10 all year) 36 Teachers in Kennedy Center LEAF-Buncombe County School 2020-2021 Cohort 46 Unique Cultural Arts Programs 1 LEAF Global Classroom w CWA (started Aug) 27 Virtual V-LEAF Experiences/Presentations 760+ Youth participants (+YouTube not counted) 2019 data to understand pandemic impact: 10,293 youth served, 589 youth performers & 1050+ classes 80,000+ Youth Participants since 2004!

INTERNATIONAL 10 countries | 14 programs 4 ONEmic Studios 22 Culture Keepers & Teaching Artists 12 Culture Keepers w/ pandemic program pivots 15 Virtual V-LEAF Experiences/Presentations 72 Cultural Exchanges to date 553+ Youth Participants Weekly 4100+ LEAF International Youth since 2006!

SIGNATURE EVENTS VLEAFS.REIMAGINE.RETREAT 3 In Person Events: Member's Drive Thru, Reimagine 2020 & LEAF Retreat 3 Virtual Festivals (V-LEAFs + Reimagine) 15 Special Virtual Mini-Events 20+ Countries Represented/Showcased 85+ Performing Artists 740 In Person Attendees 65,000+ Virtual Viewers 2019 data to understand pandemic impact: 54,000 Attendees, 1,060 Performers & 240 Handcraft & Culinary Vendors

FINANCIAL OVERVIEW 2020 INSIGHTS LEAF was severely impacted financially by several coinciding events and then COVID struck. 77% of LEAF's Annual Gross Revenues were lost in 2020. The staff was necessarily reduced in size and pay, and worked together to minimize all expenses through austerity measures while pivoting to create safe programming and supportive resources for many in our LEAF community. Membership, donations and grants became more essential than ever, and kept our mission at work. This was an extremely challenging financial year and the achievements made by our core Navigator staff, supported by our Donors and Members have allowed the LEAF organization to remain viable. We are deeply grateful to be looking forward.


LEAF Global Arts is grateful to have achieved a Gold Star rating from GuideStar. GuideStar gathers and disseminates information about every nonprofit organization so that donors can make the best giving decisions. *Copies of 2020 Financial statement available upon request.

GRANTS In 2020 Grants were a life line. We are grateful to: Bank of America, Dan Lucas Memorial Fund, Community Foundation of WNC, Dogwood Health Trust, NC Arts Council, AAAC, MURR, NIVA, National Endowment for the Arts, Buncombe County Tourism Jobs Recovery Funds, Glass Foundation, Beattie Foundation, Bradham Family Foundation, Asheville Rotary, Enterprise Holdings Foundation, & others.


TRANSFORMATIONAL + FOUNDING PARTNERS Extraordinary Gratitude to Explore Asheville BCTDA and Bank of America leaders who take immense time and care to build relationships that BUILD COMMUNITY. Their gifts brought LEAF Global Arts Center to life with a vision to be transformational for our community. The pandemic detoured the vision, yet the foundation has been laid and will continue to forge the path forward. Founding Partners joined to make this dream come to life. The LEAF Global Campaign was paused 75% of the way towards the goal in March 2020. We are relaunching the campaign in early 2021. Thank you ALL who have been part of this incredible vision.



IOn the previous page under financial highlights we recognized the agencies which provided the life line of grants. They are essential for us being here today, and we count on their support for the coming year.

LEAF extends deep gratitude for the generous support of businesses investing in our communities by supporting LEAF’s mission and work. Funding sponsor partners are essential. In 2020, we shifted from event based relationships to annual partners. To those who pivoted with us- WE ARE SO GRATEFUL!

LEAF LOVE ENDOWMENT FUND The purpose of the Fund is to support LEAF Schools & Streets and LEAF International cultural arts programs with the priorities: positive youth development, partnering to build stronger local communities, helping preserve global traditions, and connecting cultures. Fund is managed by CFWNC. HomeTrust Bank treated us with so much care, kindness & understanding during the unexpected 2020 financial waves. They made people a priority. LEAF LOVE!

KEEP LEAF ALIVE CAMPAIGN 2020 Thank you! The entire LEAF staff is filled with LEAF Love & Gratitude for all of you who join in to help us #KeepLEAFAlive. In August 2020, our organization announced that we needed to raise $100,000 to survive the end of 2020. We put our heads together, we locked arms and together WE MADE OUR GOAL! You showed us and the world that LEAF is valuable to the community and that you want us here. and we couldn't be more grateful. As we look towards 2021 we are hopeful, but we are still in need of sustainable support. Membership provides direct funding to our programs and is the path for the longevity of this organization.

Campaign Timeline: August 1 to December 31, 2020 Membership Goal: 240 Join/Rejoin Actual: 170 Financial Goal: $100,000 Raised: $117,832


LEAF MEMBERS It is true…Membership is the key to LEAF keeping our essential mission-driven programs thriving! LEAF’s main pathway of giving and enriching connections is Membership. In 2020, Members empowered LEAF to say to our Culture Keepers and Teaching Artists “Your culture, youth and YOU are important. LEAF is here for YOU!" THANK YOU LEAF Members! LEAF Love!




LEAF SUPER STARS At every beautiful and challenging moment in 2020 from opening LEAF Global Arts Center to Reimagining events to Keeping LEAF Alive, these generous and innovative LEAF friends-familysupporters led the way. Tears roll reflecting back on the strength and encouragement Greg, Don, Alexandra and the Integrative Team gave us to keep forging ahead for they believe in LEAF!

LUMINARY & VISIONARY Luminary: Faith Bishop-Rogers | Michael Compton Mark Fogas | Michael Hammonds | Chase & Clary Pickering Kenya Stevens | Kristina Trainque | John Trimble

Visionary: Helme Calfee | John Crosland Virginia Hunneke | Cindy & Pete Perez



Irma & Arthur Miller Family Foundation Allen Stahl + Kilbourne Fox Cove Photography I Am Sound Modular Building Systems International Design Thinkers Group Munki Food Company Masiello Real Estate Group The Cantina Kunga Yoga School Daly & Sawyer Construction TriBike Transport Strivven Media LLC / Virtual Job Shadow Mah Jong Kudzu Brands The Grey Eagle The Kiely Group Trailhead Restaurant Bruce M Koloseike LeBlanc Accounting Grovestone- Hedrick Industries Advantage Civil Engineering TSA Choice Green River Botanicals Anti-Fragile Physical Therapy Marie Morris & Neely Neu Beverly Hanks Realtors Leah B. Noel, CPA, PC Roots Hummus Painted Porch Gallery Carrie Perkins Girlology | Peace-Love-Happiness Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) Falcon Construction and Development Illustrated Map of Asheville EDEN-OUT Dunkin' Donuts Progressive Love Academy Collaborative by Design Tosco Music The Horse Shoe Farm Town and Mountain Realty Native Spun Echo Mountain

Big Extra LEAF Love!

NOLA Mardi Gras Indians | Shaka Zulu


STEP INTO HISTORY +THE WORLD In the heart of Downtown at the historic Club Del Cardo on The Block the ribbon was cut by Board Chair Deborah Bryant, Damian Davis (LEAF Global's builder), and the "Lion of The Block" Roy Harris welcoming all. "This was my parents place to come to dance and gather. Now we are back." -Mama Deborah. In our 25th year, LEAF opened it's 1st brick & mortar. LEAF Global is a creative immersive experience that weaves together elements of an interactive museum and an arts center. LEAF Global invites you to explore the world and our community through arts & music experiences, cultural connections, fostering global citizenship and opening pathways of understanding for everyone kids to elders. This engaging experience is designed for “Cultivating Cultural Curiosity� while honoring the rich history of The Block. Locals and visitors enjoy educational experiences, classes, and workshops rooted in music, art, community, and culture.

i LEAF is grateful to be part of bring this place which is owned by Eagle Market Street Development Corporation (EMSD) in partnership with Mountain Housing Opportunities (MHO).

This art filled creation was led by Miriam Gee, LEAF Staff and curated by local and international artists including storyteller Roy Harris, Musician Claude Coleman, Adama Dembele, Farhad Javidi, Chief Shaka Zulu, River Guerguerian, Nex Millen, Mark Hennegan, Jenny Pickens, Just Folks, Ponkho Bermejo, Darrell Rose, Luis Porras, Kimi Leger & other creatives. It was a joyful project to create and is filled with much love!

COMMUNITY COMMITMENT CULTIVATING CULTURAL CURIOSITY LEAF Global opened and felt so alive as you stepped into the world and our local history. The Interactive World Map became a catalyst for conversations of grandfathers, wives, teachers showing WHERE they are from in the world to show their families and friends. Elders regularly dropped by to share stories. The Welcome Team, most of whom have a connection to this place, had the place in action for kids and visitors. Exploring the art murals, Nelson Mandela drawings and Chief Shaka's suit made people so curious while the Easel Rider Art Bar, VR CAVE and instruments were a hit with the kids. Rentals, field trips and classes were filling up, and COVID arrived. In honor of our community, we were shuttered by law in March. We reopened in August for LEAF Global Classroom, Schools & Streets programs, Adama's drum classes and limited masked weekend visitors. LEAF staff and artists are from communities that are severely impacted by the pandemic; therefore, our openings continued to be limited. Global is ready when the world is safe. "Wonderful immersive experience. LEAF Global is everything you would expect and more from the team that brings you LEAF Festival and cultural preservation around the world. The new outpost brings a much needed hands on and experiential global immersion hub to downtown Asheville. With over 25 years of experience supporting arts and world music, Global brings it all together for locals and visitors to feel the joy and wonder of cross cultural exploration. There is something new to delight the senses around every corner. We can’t wait to go back!" "What a magical experience!! You can feel the energy and love as soon as you walk through these doors. The culture and stories are so impactful. Every detail has been wonderfully thought out and the Interactive music studio blew us away."-Kelli & Family

CREATING NEW PLATFORMS LEAF LOVES LOCAL As the world shifted virtually to COVID safe events so did LEAF Global with the Sound Underground coming to life with local artists! We launched a local music live stream LEAF Loves Local Music to support local musicians impacted by the pandemic. Six local performers engaged audiences to heal through the power of music: Ryan Barber, Chilltonic, Andrew Stochie, Ashley Heath, Kayla Lynn Mckinney and Juan Holliday. Music For The Movement collaboration with Slay The Mic team of AVL FM featured local MCs with messages of hope, peace and positivity! Featuring local Hip Hop Artists: “Say What” - Secret Hype Man, “Late Night Summer” Virtuous & Lil Ponch, “So Fo Sure” - Nex Millen & The Verse, “Stars Gang” CWA S.T.A.R.S. 600+ views made it a creative and inspiring success.

WE HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE THE END OF THE STORY This is the mantra of LEAF Lit, a poetic conversation across the globe in collaboration with louderARTS Project. This Literary Showcase pushes the boundaries of the ARTS World to let black, brown, and indigenous artists be genuinely seen and heard. LEAF Lit kicked off in the fall with 3 showcases featuring poet performers from Trinidad, Philippines, South Africa, England & US. Hosted by Lynne Procope and James Navé, it had 2,329+ views for the series!

LEAF 2020 ENEWS MISSIVES FLOWED WITH CHANGE 2020 was a year of change and growth. The world as a whole spent the majority of the year battling the greatest health crisis of our generation and the country began to attempt a look at racial tension, the negative impacts of capitalism, and the power dynamics that exist in America that are rooted in White-supremacy. As an organization, LEAF was smack dab in the middle of every conversation. Sure, our revenue streams are affected by COVID but more importantly, our community is affected by White-supremacy and how it shows up - in COVID, in power dynamics, and everything in between. As we began to pivot to a virtual world and settle into the new reality that is COVID-19, our communication strategy much like the rest of our business plan had to evolve. We shifted how often we spoke and the tenor of what we had to say. As an organization that considers equity to be both a part of our mission and a pillar of how we work, we introduced weekly equity resources into our newsletter and began more consistently highlighting the community members and businesses that #KeepLEAFAlive. Throughout the year we received feedback from members, community leaders, and others who found our comprehensive message of “onward and upwards, with grace” to be a positive point in their week, and to them, we say thank you. The saying goes that “purpose is a powerful thing” and it is our community that gives us purpose. LEAF takes our responsibility to our community very seriously and considers it an honor to act on our mission. We pledge to continue to be a resource for exploration, a tool for growth, and an advocate for the preservation of people, their culture, and their spirits. -Jefferson Ellison

As of April 2020, Jefferson's agency, JAWBREAKING Creative led our communications strategy. In August, he expanded and opened his 1st JAWBREAKING Store at LEAF Global on The Block We are grateful for his creativity and leadership in a time of crisis.

GUIDING STATEMENT LEAF INTERNATIONAL is dedicated to CULTURAL PRESERVATION, the fostering of GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP, and cultural EXCHANGE. LEAF collaborates with communities to support Culture Keepers who teach local youth their traditional arts.

PANDEMIC PIVOTS In 2020, programs shifted to meet the times. Here are some phenomenal program pivot highlights:

Guna Yala Panama

THE METHODOLOGY LEAF envisions a world where communities actively engage their youth in learning their cultural traditions, empowering them with the life skills necessary to be active agents of change in their communities, and in our world at large. LEAF International utilizes the UN Culture for Development Indicators as a guiding framework for the development, evaluation, and monitoring of programs. Believing that cultural expressions provide a wealth of intangible benefits that are crucial for a healthy and vibrant world, LEAF aligns with the UN System Task Team for the UN Development Agenda, who assert that "cultural expression provides communities with greater social inclusiveness and rootedness, resilience, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship for individuals and communities, and the use of local resources, skills, and knowledge.”

•LEAF International Rwanda culture keeper, David Kwizera, had his amazing cultural center upgraded with artistic elements that bring vibrancy and awareness. The center was painted with the help of the JR Troupe youth. As an added resource, David created a ONEmic studio in hopes of creating financial stability for his program youth. As his entrepreneurial spirit excels, we support the growth and expansion of his endeavors. •Students went back to school in Tanzania and quickly began learning new skills on the kalimba. As the ONEmic Studio classes resumed, new instruments were being introduced & incorporated into a beat making format. With no option for virtual learning, youth stay fully invested in their classroom time. Arusha, Tanzania

CULTURE KEEPERS Costa Rica: Luis Salazar, Alexis Rodriguez · Guatemala: Sara Morales · Rwanda: David Kwizera, Claude Nyandwi · Haiti: Johanne Dejean, Bwa Gris · Ivory Coast: Dramane Dembele · Mexico: Marco Belan · New Orleans: Chief Shaka Zulu · Panama: Jose Hayans Saint Vincent & The Grenadines: Kesslon Wilson, Akeem Hannaway · Tanzania: Fredy N'ganga, Edward Ndoleli



El Tejar, Guatemala

MEET TEACHING ARTIST + CULTURE KEEPER SARA MORALES Hola! a todos nuestros buenos amigos que hacen posible el trabajo con los niños y Jóvenes en El Tejar- Guatemala.

Hello! to all our good friends who make possible the work with children and youth in El Tejar- Guatemala. it is different from what we had planned, but we learned new things. - ❤ Sara Morales

This year, students recorded themselves practicing so teachers could help them improve their violin, flute, mandolin, and marimba skills. Innovation is magical in Guatemala as most students do not have the option of virtual learning. This program has created a beautiful pivot to self-recording videos in efforts of continuing their music classes. The young music students are dedicated, confident, and delightful. Guided by Sara Morales, the extraordinary music director & culture keeper, along with other amazing teachers & parents, the kids learn many instruments within Guatemalan traditions. The music program is a bright light in El Tejar. “Because art is to share and it is very important to teach our traditions to our youth so that they value and appreciate our culture. When our students perform music it gives importance to our traditions. The people in our community value the work that we do, and our students are a positive example for other young people in our community who think only foreign music has value. We are preserving our culture by passing it down to new generations. This work is important because there are fewer spaces [for our traditional culture] because of globalization.” - Sara Morales, Guatemala Culture Keeper



CULTURAL EXPEDITIONS Cultivating Cultural Curiosity: Be a part of a journey that will allow you to immerse yourself into the heart of LEAF & its mission. This opportunity will take you through cross-cultural experiences with LEAF International programs including Guatemala, Haiti, Costa Rica & more. See how LEAF contributes to the vivacity of these traditions by supporting the preservation of cultures and cultural knowledge transfer to the next generations. Your journey will be led by LEAF staff members, Culture Keepers & partners. These trips are family-friendly, so bring your kids & their friends! Give them an opportunity to see the world as global citizens. "I feel emotional when I hear the Ngäbe people talk. I feel their purpose. LEAF is helping indigenous people fight for a good cause." -Jose Mendez, Costa Rica Expedition Partner

Ngabe-Bugle First Nation

CULTURAL EXCHANGES Cultural exchanges are an integral part of the organization, as we work to cultivate a stronger global community and connect cultures around the world. LEAF International cultural exchanges result in impactful experiences, both for the participating International students as well as the larger LEAF community involved. During cultural exchanges, culture keepers, teaching artists, and youth come to Asheville to share their traditional cultural art forms with local communities, creating global citizenship experiences. These exchanges happen in conjunction with the LEAF Festivals & LEAF Downtown (May, August, & October). "We have lost our culture & have since started adopting other cultures." -Senior Chief of Chishi Village Chishi, Zambia LEAF INTERNATIONAL CULTURE KEEPER DAVID KWIZERA IN ZAMBIA TO INSPIRE RECONNECTION TO TRADITIONS

GUIDING STATEMENT LEAF Schools & Streets creates CULTURAL ARTS EDUCATION programs that use the arts to bridge cultures and create life-affirming, community building experiences - empowering LOCAL youth to become GLOBAL CITIZENS, young artistic LEADERS & agents of POSITIVE CHANGE. Lesson plans, curriculum and evaluation align with the Search Institute's Developmental Assets Profile to strengthen youth healthy development and success in schools, youth programs, and communities. LEAF programs focus on these Assets: 1. Community values youth 2. Adult Role Models 3. Cultural Competence 4. Creative Activities 5. Personal Power 6. Self-Esteem

TEACHING ARTISTS Adama Dembele - West African Drumming+Culture Otto "Aquaboogy" Vazquez - Hip Hop Dance Lisa Smith - Stop Motion Animation, Live Action Movie Making, Global Creative Writing Melissa & Kayla Lynn McKinney - Songwriting Agustin Frederic Ramos - World Percussion + Music Nex Millen - OneMIC Recording Studio Melvin AC Howell - Dance, Global Classroom Kyrie Antionette Rolle - Violin, Global Classroom Erinn Hartley - Mural Painting Pre-Pandemic Artists who we hope to work with again soon.

Ashleigh Millett-Goff - Theatre Marci Bernstein - Theatre Sam Irvin IV - Music, Brass Bands Sondra and Alan Hall - Poetry + Percussion

OTTO VAZQUEZ, RESIDENT TEACHING ARTIST HOP HOP “LEAF Schools & Streets is an organization that is part of the lifeblood of the Asheville community. The work we do with these programs, these centers, is as essential in our city. As teaching artists, we just don’t teach the arts, music or percussion etc. We become role models in a world lacking heavily of role models. We are big brothers and sisters, to little souls in need of someone to look up to. In my work, I have seen the seeds of my teachings stay with my students until adulthood. I always said art, music and dance can heal a community. But more importantly, it’s the heart of the teacher and mentor that truly saves lives and I am fortunate enough to work with a group of good hearts and we all work together to heal and inspire this community. So, to me, LEAF can be summed up in a word: vital!”

CULTURAL ARTS EDUCATION IN CLASSROOMS & COMMUNITY LEAF GLOBAL + VIRTUAL| 2020 LEARNING HUBS In an ever-changing, unpredictable world, our Resident Teaching Artists have shown their resiliency to roll with the tide and remain strong and consistent for the children in our communities. Shifting mid-gear to go from in-person classes to virtual classes, many learning virtual platforms for the first time, our teaching artists were able to provide 117 virtual classes this year, from the end of March through December. A silver lining to the necessary shift to a virtual world is that our reach became world-wide, with the accessibility provided through platforms such as YouTube, Zoom, and Facebook. LEAF International Culture Keeper David Kwizera delighted in being able to participate in Adama Dembele’s West African drumming class all the way from Rwanda. These cross-cultural connections are vital to the mission of LEAF Global Arts and we are grateful to have been able to continue this work safely, in the midst of a pandemic.


MEETING THE NEED LEAF Global Arts created the Global Classroom to address the community need of supporting under-resourced, older youth needing academic and enrichment support throughout the 2020-2021 school year in light of the gap caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Global Classroom is an immersive, creative learning setting that enables students to connect to the world and Asheville’s local history within the historic African American location on “The Block.” Experienced tutors support virtual learning during morning hours Monday through Friday while LEAF Teaching Artists and Culture Keepers from around the region and world help curate global arts education three afternoons each week. The LEAF Global Classroom is coordinated in cooperation with existing community partner Christine W. Avery Learning Center (CWA). LEAF Global is a rich environment with the ability to catalyze LEAF resources and connections to cultivate cultural curiosity and understanding while supporting academic requirements to create engaged global citizens. In 2020, LEAF Global Classroom supported 18 youth in grades 4 through 9 in their virtual learning and provided enrichment through classes in West African drumming and culture, hip hop dance, mural painting, yoga (in partnership with Light a Path), and mindfulness. Students were also able to sample African cuisine from Kente Kitchen, to supplement their global learning.




PARTNERS IN EDUCATION LEAF Global became part of Kennedy Center Partners in Education program in 2018 with Buncombe County Schools. In 2020, we more than doubled our participating teachers to a cohort of 36. Of these 36, 12 participated in 2019 as well. We are grateful for the opportunity to bring global arts into the schools through this arts integration initiative. This collaborative national program facilitates educational partnerships between arts organizations around the nation and their local school systems. Representatives from these organizations work together to establish or expand professional learning in the arts for teachers. 19 Teachers in 2019-2020 Cohort 36 Teachers in 2020-2021 Cohort 10 Buncombe County Schools represented 2019-2020 19 Buncombe County Schools represented overall 2020 8 Dabbles* occurred in 2020.

TEACHER DABBLES In a virtual songwriting workshop by Teaching Artists Melissa and Kayla Lynn McKinney, this powerhouse mother-daughter duo empowered BCS teachers to create an original song on the topic “What Does it Mean to Be a Global Citizen?” The outcome was amazing and encouraged teachers to continue collaborating further, and feel more confident in their music and songwriting abilities. In this workshop, Kayla imparted to the teachers that "When we empower and educate kids to empower and educate other kids, we are amplifying our impact. As you work through your planning for this upcoming year, don’t underestimate the strength of our kids and teens. Let us empower THEM to inspire global curiosity in other young people. Let us cultivate connection between young people that is reminiscent of our pen pal days when we were in elementary school. Today, we are more connected, yet more disconnected than ever. So, How can we reconnect? The answer is through our kids. They are the bridge. Let's walk across that bridge to this next year. This next chapter. Holding hands with the next generation." A "dabble" is an opportunity for teachers to dabble in a particular art form to help them gain skills and confidence in the arts as they work toward arts integration in their classrooms.



COMMUNITY NEED Easel Rider and ULEAF recognize the power of cultural arts as a vessel for community building by strengthening intergenerational and cross-cultural relationships, empowering individuals and strengthening leadership in the local community. Easel Rider in 2020 took a drastic pivot as Covid 19 impacted the world. Shifting from after school programs DAILY and community events to a stop in March. We quickly regained traction and responded to community needs by creating 250 art packets with the supplies on the mobile art lab to communities that were vulnerable and part of Asheville Housing Authority complexes.

ULEAF MOBILE STAGE ULEAF, Unfolding LEAF, fosters pathways of access, inclusivity, and community-building through collaborative events in neighborhoods, community centers, public parks, and even private functions. In 2020, ULEAF was deployed at the important Juneteenth Celebration, Church services by Asheville Vice Mayor Sheneika Smith as well as Welcome Table serving community meals with integrity to combat food insecurity. ULEAF was vital at Reimagine and for community events at Rabbit Rabbit an outdoor music venue and community space.

Easel Rider also launched positive cultural arts crafts virtually on Thursday afternoons in effort to ease kid's minds from the pandemic and express themselves creatively through art! The attendance for those online offerings garnered attention from kids and families with views between 800 and over a thousand per craft tutorial! Easel Rider began to hit the street with special events. Social Distancing and masks with limited participants were safety essentials. HACA's Hillcrest celebration of Juneteenth was a great event in which to participate for the 5th year in a row. This year after the untimely death of George Floyd, the celebration had layers of meaning and touches at the core of the work we do at LEAF. We also rolled into other events such as Black Liberation Day, Reimagine 2020 collaboration between LEAF Global and YMI. as well as the LEAF Retreat at Lake Eden.




Adama's Camp Class

Agustin's Camp Class

TEACHING ARTISTS IN GLOBAL PERCUSSION + CULTURE MEET AGUSTIN FREDERIC “I am Costa Rican, with 36% Central American Indian blood, an immigrant, and a LEAF Teaching Artist. I teach music arts to youth in Asheville; and am a stage Audio+Lighting engineer as well as a Performing & Recording Artist with my groups ExciterBox and Zabumba. My 1st gig with LEAF was back in 2016! Interestingly, as LEAF supports my ancestor in my country, I am the Tico teaching Americans here in our community. This showcases the synchronicity and positive possibilities with LEAF. I am looking forward to an album release and collegiate teaching.”

WE CREATED THE GLOBAL PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE! "We studied Latin, African, Middle-Eastern, Asian, Brazilian, American rhythms, and played all concepts on congas, bongos, cowbells, ago-go bells, claves, maracas, djembes, djun djuns, dumbeks, and drum set. I taught Global Music History classes and a Global Percussion Ensemble group daily. The kids were empowered by embracing the positive impact of percussion and music history. The YMCA and LEAF staff put safety first and made it the priority to have extra pandemic protocols in place. In my classes, we practiced the 1 rule concept: RESPECT. We began class with a reflection about respect. We practice movement music exercises to get us going and in tune with our body, studied the 7 Elements of Music and how to play regardless of the instrument, and explored different cultures and music from around the world. I shared ecordings and videos, and the students learned how to write their ideas in actual music notation. The kids left each class with a notebook full of information to explore on their own. I also taught them dance and movement to be able to connect to the different way cultures move and enjoy music. We sang, played, learned and had fun even at a distance in 2020 summer camp!”


Jenny Pickens, Black Lives Matter Mural

Eliminating inequities begins with us. Treating everyone with dignity, respect & non-judgment. All LEAF ambassadors (staff, board, teaching artists..) are represented in the communities we serve across the organization. LEAF examines systems within organization to ensure equitable learning and participation. Policies, procedures, and funding are aligned with LEAF’s core values & mission. Staff & Board have monthly Equity Sessions that are a safe space for growth and learning.

LEARNING JOURNEYS LEAF shifted our "in person" Learning Journeys to the live stream platform. Each month, LEAF Community Engagement Director Marsha Almodavar hosted engaging conversations by the local community, teaching artists, culture keepers, and partners. These sessions are an opportunity to expand our worldview and share perspectives that are vital to our growth. This is a guided conversation that is curated through research and intention. They are open to members and community. In 2020 we hosted panels with LEAF teaching artists Nex Millen, Jenny Pickens, Otto Vazquez and Tarah Singh focused On Arts in the time of Covid and Racial injustices. Brain Linus, former LEAF International Youth leader, all the way from Tanzania sharing a young global perspective. As well a powerful conversation journey with Latinx Women Leaders in Asheville featuring Paulina Mendez, Michele Ashley and Carolina Perez. That touched the core of issues concerning the Latinx community and moving forward with love and collective liberation! L The topics/themes correlate with the national equitable dialogue and LEAF’s internal mission-driven values. Themes included Racial Justice, Black History Month, Cultural Arts appreciation. With over 2,500 views for the series!


1ST MEMBER'S DRIVE THRU Postponing our 50th "Solid Gold" Festival Celebration was necessary; however, we creatively came together to create a Drive-Thru experience for our Members and Staff that lifted our spirits and kept us SAFE on the slated May 16th which would have been Sunday at LEAF's 50th. In our 25 years, this was the most unique, unexpected and FUN experience. "We ALL NEEDED THIS SO MUCH" -Betsy reflected as we laughed remembering LEAF Vignette stations you'd DRIVE BY: LEAF Love Portal, Canoe Gal, Yoga duo, marching band, contra dance couple, Stump Mutts on ULEAF, Poet readings, David LaMotte singing at the barn while Adama was the Drum Circle for 1 on Barntop, Leigh played piano in Lounging Barn, Unicorn Ranch was alive with Smith Family, "Bears'' raided a campsite, Mojo had food ready, Lazoom "sinatized" your car on way out as Toodle Lou waved bye & Happy LEAF!

VIRTUAL IS ON! All of our LEAF Signature Events now have a Virtual Component to create world wide connection and opportunities for LEAF International Culture Keepers and youth, and to expand our global community. In 2020, LEAF had 25,142 unique viewers for virtual audiences at VLEAF & Reimagine and that doesn't even include all those who tuned into LEAF's YouTube & Facebook Live events.



In 2020, LEAF Planted Seeds fo


REIMAGINE OCTOBER 3-4, 2020 Since 2015, LEAF has been a City of AVL Strategic Partner to create LEAF Downtown. In planning for 2020, we met often with the City, and then pivoted to create Reimagine 2020 in Collaboration with YMI, our new neighbor downtown. We were both missing our big signature city events. We pooled our resources and limited capacity to create a small in person as well as virtual experience. Reimagine 2020 featured Nina Simone Tributes with young local artists Lyric, Debrissa & The Bear King, Natural Born Killers, and Adi the Monk. LIVE performances at YMI and LEAF Global Arts. History of Black Asheville Storytelling Conversation with interviews, panel discussions, and keynote speakers and a Candlelight Vigil in memory of those we lost in 2020 took us deep. Laugh out Loud Comedy with local and national comics, Light A Path Healing offerings, Magic Lantern Parade with Street Creature Puppet Collective, local LIVE MUSICIANS, and Community Resources Renewed our spirits and connections! Reimagine 2020 was possible because of the generosity and flexibility of The Dan Lucas Memorial Fund and National Endowment of the Arts (NEA).


1ST LEAF RETREAT + V-LEAF | OCTOBER 22-25, 2020 The LEAF Retreat was our pivot to a small restorative socially distanced SAFE gathering. The Retreat took us back to our roots with a sense of community and cultural curiosity across generations. The 300+ acres at historic beautiful Lake Eden was the main act, as people got to enjoy the outdoors and intimate shows from Steep Canyon Rangers, Rising Appalachian, Kinobe, River Guerguerian, Save Our Brass, Pride & so many generous longtime LEAF artists who came together to create the 1st Retreat and plant seeds for the future as we were all reeling from the impact of COVID. We are so grateful!

"The Retreat was MAGIC & restored my soul" - said by many!


BOARD OF DIRECTORS 2020 President: Pete Roe Chair: Deborah Bryant Whip: Neely Neu Secretary: Jen Beasley Treasurer: Jim Diaz President Emeritus: Derek Allen Joanne Badr-Morgan Naima Dido Bill Feste Vanessa Guerrero Kerri Hampton Dr. “Big E” Howard Jay Moye Matthew Pride Justice Rogers Clare Schwartz Ford Willis Steve Wilmans Lisa Zahiya Mike Zinsmeister

BOARD EMERITUS Carol Antman (Charleston SC) Ivi Bilich (Charlotte NC) Gary Broome • Cleaster Cotton Tracy Massiello Brown (Charlotte NC) Christine DiBenedetto • James Fisher Tommy George (Charlotte NC) River Guerguerian • Kelly Hanson Elbert Hargrave (Black Mountain NC) Elizabeth Hunter Holler • Jill Jones Holt Moore (Atlanta, GA) Cliff Hotchkiss (Philadelphia PA) Jim Magill • Sarah Nie Doug Orr • Anthony Thomas Reggie Tidwell Robert Todd • Jody Whitehurst

COMPASS ADVISORS GRATITUDE for these brilliant creatives who encourage and advise LEAF Global’s new path & like a compass keep us on true north. Judith Ann Abrams, NY, Broadway Producer • Alexandra & Don Clayton, Asheville, NC + St. Maarten, Business Entrepreneur • Bootsy & Pepperminte Patti Collins, Ohio, Masters of FUNK• Charles Gwinn, Winston Salem, NC, Developer/ International Consultant • Darrell Rose, VA, West African Drum Master • Derek Andrews, Toronto, Canada, Mundial Montreal + World Music Advocate • Gene Bell, Asheville, NC, AVL Housing Authority • Georgia Beasley, Peru, International Development • James Nave, NM, Poet • Kinobe, Uganda, Dance of Hope • Kiran Singh, TN, Jonesboro Storytelling Festival • Lisa Ruberti, NY, Fashion Industry • Masankho Banda, Malawi, International Peace Builder + Educator • Natalia Clavier, NY, Thievery Corporation • Tom Pryor, NY, World Music Journalist + Media • Greg Lucas, NOLA, Preservation Hall • Leah Song, Global Artist & Activist • Jordan Robbins, Jane Goodall Institute-No Barriers & LEAF • David LaMotte, Musician-Speaker-Author NAVIGATOR STAFF (YEAR ROUND): JENNIFER PICKERING, LEIGH MAHER , SCHREE CHAVDAROV CHELCIE SPENCER, MARSHA ALMODOVAR, ERINN HARTLEY & JEFFERSON ELLISON. AVIATORS (FLY IN & OUT CONTRACT): MIKE COMPTON, SAMANTHA “SAM” SAX, NEX MILLEN, HEATHER DEIFELL, MADISON LINK, MICHELLE TROSZAK, KEVIN L. YOUNG & INTERNS! 2020 REDUCED OUR STAFF. WE ARE GRATEFUL FOR & MISS OUR TEAMMATES: EHREN CRUZ, MEGAN CROW, JORDAN ROBBINS, AMANDA VOLLRATH, KRISTAL WOODS.

LEAF is a nonprofit 501c3 organization on a mission: Connecting cultures & creating community through music, arts education, preservation & experiences.


LEAF love since 1995 black mountain | asheville haiti | tanzania | rwanda | guatemala | costa rica | nola st.Vincent & The grenadines | panama | mexico | ivory coast


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