2017 to 2019


  • LEAF is now official partners of the US Embassy Public Affairs Branch!
  • Kylie Irvin joined our Resident Teaching Artist roster as a co-leader of the LEAF Christine Avery Learning Center Brass Band.
  • Seven Buncombe County Schools teachers attended the Kennedy Center Arts Integration Conference in Arlington, VA as a part of our Kennedy Center Partners in Education program.
  • Seventeen Buncombe County Schools teachers completed Phase I of our Kennedy Center Partners in Education program with Buncombe County Schools and were honored on stage at LEAF Downtown.
  • LEAF Christine Avery Learning Center Brass Band was established, under the direction of Resident Teaching Artist Sam Irvin IV.
  • LEAF moves Headquarters to Eagle Market Place Development Downtown Asheville on The Block.
  • The 49th LEAF Festival “Reaches for the Stars” celebrating the importance of celebrating your dreams, expanding your horizons, and embracing the power of wonder.
  • LEAF International Tanzania Teaching artist, Edward Ndoleli & 2 of his youth came to Asheville for the first ever LEAF ONEmic masterclass led by David Satori. This class was in collaboration with International Haiti ONEmic & Echo Mountain Studios. The accumulation of the class was a main-stage performance with world-renown band Dirtwire.
  • LEAF Rwanda JR Troupe’s second Grand Performance at Tour Du Rwanda in conjunction with the Global Livingston Institute. The JR Troupe did so well last year that they were invited back to headline the concert series.
  • Release of Three Dimensional (3-D), the 3rd Burial Beer Company beer dedicated to NOLA culture. 3-D honors the three dimensional style of the uptown Mardi Gras Indian suits. The release of 3-D included a launch party at the iconic Fish Pot
  • Former Tanzania student Brain Linus Ngatunga, returns to the US to study his 11th grade year in Asheville.
  • LEAF Global Building + Design begins with an extraordinary group of Curators and Compass Advisors!!
  • LEAF Easel Rider has engages at different touch points with  3,678 children in Buncombe county to date in 2019!
  • Easel Rider has brought on 5 new teaching artist!
  • The 5th Annual LEAF Downtown brings a record 30,000 guests to Pack Square Park “Rising Up” with Arrested Development and Stephen Marley!
  • LEAF Learning Journey took our staff  through a journey into our community with 5 engaging experiences! With local non profit leaders from WNCAP,Guardian and Litem,The Lords Acre & Our Voice. We took a tour with Shuvonda Harper at the Edington Center, Equity conversation with Marta Alcalá-Williams, Mixing Beats at LEAF’s ONEMic Studio and watched the LEAF Summer camp kids preform an epic music and art and dance showcase at the Wesley Grant center… and more to come!
  • Voices of Asheville this Downtown LEAF featured 27 community partners, Ranging in programming from salsa class, Empanada cooking class, Volunteerism panel. Equity dive and an Open Hearts Showcase!
  • The 48th LEAF Festival “Breaks Ground”  and celebrates innovation, resilience, and the power of creativity with a powerful sold out event.
  • ULEAF stage was front and center at this years Womens March on Asheville! Where the community came out in snowy weather to support equality and equity for all women in our nation! and popped up throughout Buncombe county to give a platform for various community events!


  • LEAF Schools & Streets along with Buncombe Co. Schools Awarded National Distinction by John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts!
  • LEAF receives Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF) Matching Grant to build LEAF Global Arts Center!
  • Reader’s Digest recognizes LEAF as one of the “Top 10 Outdoor Festivals Your Kids Will Love This Year
  • LEAF International Rwanda Culture Keeper David Kwizera opens for Ozomatli
  •  LEAF – Bequia Kids On Pan open their own music center.
  • The LEAF Rwanda JR Troupe makes their grand debut on the main-stage of the Tour Du Rwanda concert series with more than 15,000 people in attendance.
  • LEAF International Mexico made their first ever festival appearance after 10 years of partnership.
  • 7 LEAF International Haiti members teach cultural exchanges at several locations in Asheville including the Christine Avery Center, Burton Street ONEmic Studio & a 5-day residency at TC Roberson High School.
  • 10 LEAF International Guatemala Cultural Expeditioners embrace the traditional customs & music culture of Guatemala.
  • 2nd LEAF Cross country cultural exchanges with LEAF International Tanzania & Rwanda.
  • Culture Keeper Dramane Dembele creates a partnership with the SOS d’Abobo Orphanage to teach classes 3 times per week. His classes quickly reached full capacity in a matter of days.
  • Costa Rica Culture Keeper Alexis Rodriguez published his second book, Ji Tara Kri Deka. This book is infused with traditional Ngabe stories and poems to help the youth connect to their traditional Indian roots. Ji Tara Kri Deka is in 35 schools & 5 Indian Territories throughout Southern Costa Rica and Northern Panama.
  • LEAF International partner, Burial Beer Co release the Golden Feather Pale Ale, the second Mardi Gras Indian beer dedicated to New Orleans Culture.
  • 10,500 + Youth served with LEAF Schools and Streets programming!
  • 840 children participated in Resident Teaching Artist classes.
  • 208 Easel Rider events rolled through with visual arts in  Buncombe county!
  • 11 community focus events with ULEAF unfolded in local areas.


  • Mtx Xpress Best of WNC 2017 Hall of Fame:#1 Nonprofit That Serves The Arts, #1 Cultural or Arts Event , #1 Local Music Festival, #1 Music-Related Nonprofit, #1 Event or Festival For Kids, #1 Local Festival To Camp Out At
  • 3 long time LEAFers, 2 Staff, 1 LEAF Schools & Street Culture Keeper, and 1 LEAF Schools & Street youth journey to Haiti for the LEAF International Cultural Expedition. This year all participated in Prosjekt Haiti’s annual summer camp – supporting global arts education for more than 80 youth from Saint Luis du Sud. As the community continues to recover from the damage of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, the importance of preserving Haitian arts & culture is needed more now than ever.
  • LEAF International Rwanda Culture Keeper David Kwizera gets his first ever vacation. While in Asheville, David worked hard to connect and secure sustainable housing for the LEAF Intore Dance Troupe.
  • LEAF International Tanzania & Rwanda headline the twice annual Orange Peel performance along side culture keepers Masankho Banda, Adama Dembele, Stephanie & Gregory Laforest, and Grandfather Mazatzin. This performance alone brought in a youth group of more than 460.
  • LEAF International Tanzania (Culture Keeper Fredy N’ganga & 3 of his students) and LEAF International Rwanda (Culture Keeper David Kwizera, Pacifique Niyosenga, Patrick Usengimana, & world-renown Inganga player Daniel Ngarukiye) join the 44th May LEAF festival to celebrate the Legends of Africa. LEAF International touched over 1500 youth and community members this past May!
  • Rainbow Community School visits Burton Street ONEmic Studio for the first time! “Inside Out” Music Business Club every 3rd Saturday at the space. This month, held an off-site professional photoshoot and invited students to participate!
  • LEAF International Bequia begins the deep stages of renovating a cultural center donated to the group from the government. When the Bequia government learned of preservation methods set in place by the Steel on Pans youth, they felt it necessary to offer the foundation so youth can continue to learn the sacred, harmonious rhythms of the steel pan drums.
  • LEAF International Guatemala gets a new music room built by Build Lightly Studios.
  • LEAF International Bequia gets new steel pans!
  • Easel Rider immerses in the Shiloh community with weekly programming using arts education and fun activities!
  • LEAF Delta House Jazz Band embarks on their community-funded musical journey to New Orleans
  • National Release of Shallow Water – a beer dedicated to sustaining New Orleans culture….Thanks Burial Beer Co.!
  • LEAF Schools & Streets launches pilot partnership program by joining forces with Buncombe County Public Schools’ Book-Mobile and the Summer Meals Program. Easel Rider cruisin’ in the Deaverview and Haw Creek communities!

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.