2020 Highlights

Celebrating Our 25th Anniversary Year!

LEAF International

  • 22 Culture Keepers were supported so they may be present in their communities & passing on traditions where they are able
  • 12 Culture Keepers are beautifully pivoting to bring creativity, inspiration & connection through virtual classes
  • Through VLEAF in May and Oct, Culture Keepers created 15 virtual classes/presentations bringing inspiration from the wisdom global cultures that have survived for centuries! 
  • The launch of the Elite Steel Orchestra in St. Vincent & The Grenadines
  • LEAF ONEmic Rwanda & Tanzania received upgrades
  • Rwanda- Zambia Cultural Exchange with LEAF International Culture Keeper David Kwizera making his 1st trip to Zambia and being an expert on Cultural Preservation

LEAF Schools & Streets

  • Resident Teaching Artists Adama Dembele, Otto Vazquez, Lisa Smith, Melissa McKinney, Kayla Lynn McKinney, Agustin Frederic Ramos are beautifully pivoted to bring creativity, inspiration & connection through virtual classes.
  • 36 Teachers are in the 2020-2021 LEAF Global Arts- Buncombe County Schools Cohort with The Kennedy Center! These teachers are learning to integrate Global Arts Education into their lessons.
  • Summer Camp from A Distance with free YMCA Horizon Middle School Day Camp
  • LEAF Global Classroom with Christine W. Avery Learning Center STARS youth launched in August 2020, thanks to a generous Member, where global arts classes complement the learning three days a week.
  • First ONEMic Song Recorded & Written by Christine W. Avery Learning Center STARS – on LEAF Global ONEMic Youtube
  • Through VLEAF in May and Oct, Teaching Artists created 117 virtual classes/presentations
  • LEAF V-LEAF Festivals (Virtual), Reimagine 2020 and LEAF Retreat created new ways of Teaching Artists to participate in regardless of location and opened up to new audiences. 
  • Videos created: “Real Talk About Bullyingvideo
  • Easel Rider in the Community & Art Kits – Found new ways to let our love for art and our community shine! Art packets for kids in our Housing communities, social distant craft time in Deaverview neighborhood during free summer meal pick up time. As well as thrive and inspire in the Christine W. Avery Learning Center every Thursday afternoon.
  • ULEAF has gotten out in the community at various places including: outdoor event spaces, church, and more.

LEAF Global Arts Center

  • Grand Opening Valentine’s Day 2020! 
    • Official Ribbon Cutting by Board Chair Deborah Bryant and her son Damian Davis who was the builder! The link to this historic building, Club Del Cardo, runs deep for Mama Deborah’s parents gathering place was here. Official welcome by Curator Roy Harris & Executive Director Jennifer Pickering
  • Virtual Music Experiences in LEAF Global! We Love Love Music Nights and Music for the Movement.
    • Music for the Movement– A collaboration with Slay the Mic local MC’s to highlight up and coming hip hop artists and messages of hip hop culture through music 
    • We Love Local Music Nights– A virtual local music showcase in our beautiful Sound Underground. Giving artists the opportunity to live stream and boost their spirits as well for the people watching at home!
  • Global Poetry Events: LEAF Lit Live (Oct/Nov/Dec) Literary Showcase 
    • LEAF Lit is a poetic conversation across the globe with the mantra “WE HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE THE END OF THE STORY.”
    • Hosts James Nave & Lynne Procope with international poets featuring: Roger Bonair-Agard, Rondell Benjamin, Thuli Zuma, Atillah Springer, Mahogany L. Browne, Cathy Linh Che, and Cheryl Boyce-Taylor.
    • James Nave has been the LEAF Slam Master and Poet since 1995 and helped create LEAF!
  • Collaborating w/ AAAC & City of AVL to create Black Lives Matter Mural
  • Equity Learning Journeys for Staff monthly
  • Learning Journeys– conversations that take on a journey to expand our world view. With LEAF teaching Artists, Brain Linus all the way from Tanizina. Strong women leaders from the Latinx community moving forward with love and collective liberation!
  • LEAF Global featured as Sand Hill Artists Collective


  • LEAF’s 1st Virtual Festivals! V-LEAF May and V-LEAF October
  • LEAF Members Masked Drive-Thru in May
  • LEAF’s Poetry Slam goes virtual and continues to be one of the longest running consecutive poetry slams in history!
  • Reimagine 2020 in Collaboration with YMI featuring Nina Simone Tributes, Black Storytelling. Made possible by Dan Lucas Memorial Fund and NEA.
  • Music  – LIVE performances at YMI and LEAF Global Arts // Digital Performances with a special Nina Simone Tribute and a focus on our local artists.
  • History of Black Asheville Storytelling 
  • Conversation – interviews, panel discussions, and keynote speakers
  • Candlelight Vigil – in memory of those we lost in 2020
  • Comedy – Laugh out loud with local and regional comics
  • Family-Friendly Entertainment
  • MagiLantern Parade with Street Creature Puppet Collective 
  • Community Resources
  • Renew your spirits! Pathways to explore healing arts, shop with local artists, and delicious food from your favorite restaurants.

Other Highlights

  • New Website Launched
  • BEST of WNC Awards: First Place (Hall of Fame): Local Music Festival, Music-Related Nonprofit, First Place (Hall of Fame): Cultural or Arts Event, Holiday Event – Summer/Fall (Uniquely Asheville)


Grateful for Grants that were essential to our 2020

  • CFWNC People in Need for LEAF Global Classroom
  • NC Arts Council Organizational Support
  • Dogwood Health Trust Racial Equity Community Grant
  • Asheville Rotary
  • AAAC NC Cares for Arts
  • MURR

Mayani is a Maasai boy from longido Arusha. He went to boarding school at 6 years old and lost his Maasai language and tradition. Since joining the LEAF program, he has learned to sing Maasai songs, practiced the ‘jump’ tradition and wear Maasai shukas (traditional clothing). Mayani is extremely happy and is currently teaching other youth the culture.