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Schools & Streets

“Teaching music has become a new way of speaking to people. It has opened new channels of telling the people we are here and we have a culture.”

Alexis Rodriguez, LEAF International Culture Keeper, Ngäbe First Nation

LEAF Schools & Streets Highlights

LEAF Global Classroom
LEAF Schools & Streets partnered with Christine W. Avery Learning Center to launch LEAF Global Classroom in August 2020, thanks to a generous LEAF Member, where global arts classes complement the learning for STARS program youth three days a week.
LEAF Schools & Streets Goes Virtual
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 and experiences in 2020, from the end of March through December.
Easel Rider Provides Art Supplies to Community
Easel Rider in 2020 took a drastic pivot as Covid 19 impacted the rest of the world. Shifting from after school programs daily and community events to a full stop in March. We quickly regained traction and responded to our community needs by creating art packets with the mobile art lab supplies to vulnerable and most impacted communities. We created over 250 packets and delivered them to our Asheville Housing Authority complexes. We look forward to continuing our mission of equal and equitable access to cultural arts.

LEAF Schools & Streets Summer Camp 2021

LEAF Schools & Streets invites your students to join us at LEAF Global Arts for summer camp! There will be three camps which will run 9am to 5pm at LEAF Global Arts Downtown. Morning drop off is between 8:30am and 9am and pick up is from 5pm-5:30pm. Snacks will be provided, and students should bring a bagged lunch and a water bottle to camp every day. 


We will kick off our first summer camp with a Hip Hop Dance camp for rising 1st through 6th graders. This camp will be led by LEAF Master Resident Teaching Artist Otto Vazquez, and will introduce students to the stylings, history, and culture of hip hop dance. Mr. Otto is sure to teach your kiddo some smooth moves! This camp runs June 21st-25th. 

Our second camp will be led by Melissa McKinney and Kayla Lynn McKinney. They will be teaching Global Citizen Songwriting. Students will write lyrics, explore various instruments, dive into the world of music recording, and focus on what makes a global citizen. This camp is best suited for middle school-aged students and runs July 12th-16th. 

Our third camp of the summer is a Global Arts Camp, where students will work with LEAF Resident Teaching Artists in the areas of theatre, music, dance, and art. This camp is open to rising first through 6th graders and runs July 26th-30th. 

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Cost for these week-long camps is $230. Scholarships available. Please inquire by emailing Erinn at education@theLEAF.org. 

LEAF Global Arts Summer Camps made possible in part by a partnership with Open Doors of Asheville, and the generous support of LEAF members.  

Online Classes & Workshops

Like you, LEAF Global Arts is staying home. Fortunately for us all, music & art are universal and we can connect to each other from afar! We are excited to invite our global community to get engaged and get creative with LEAF Schools & Streets through virtual Cultural Arts education, exploration, and experiences! Some of our Teaching Artists will be offering virtual classes and workshops until we can safely meet in person again. 

Current free class offerings hosted on Facebook and Youtube

  • West African Drumming and Dance for Kids with Adama Dembele – Wednesdays
  • West African Music, Culture, and Language, Music with Adama Dembele – Fridays
  • All-Ages Hip Hop – Old School to New School Moves with Otto Vazquez 

Resident Teaching Artist Programs

LEAF has the opportunity to impact youth beyond the festival experience. LEAF’s growing roster of 16+ Resident Teaching Artists lead a variety of programs that allow youth to explore an array of cultural arts, including:

        • HIP HOP – Breakdance, Choreography, Intro to DJing
        • MUSIC APPRECIATION – Brass Band, Songwriting, World Percussion
        • AFRICAN DIASPORA – Drumming, Dance & Costuming
        • DRAMA – Theatre
        • MEDIA – Stop Motion Animation, Live Action Movie-Making, LEAF ONEMic EMErgence

LEAF Schools & Streets programs, goals, curriculum, and evaluations are aligned with the Developmental Assets Profile, developed by the Search Institute. Building these assets prepares youth for success in some type of college or education, a career, and citizenship. LEAF has identified 6 assets that exemplify the types of skills our programs help to develop in our students. These are: Community Values Youth, Adult Role Models, Creative Activities, Cultural Competence, Personal Power, & Self-Esteem.

Semester Offered: SPRING, SUMMER & FALL
Showcase Details (at LEAF Festival & LEAF Retreat)SPRING – TBD // FALL – TBD
CostFREE to participants with gratitude to LEAF Members, grants, donors, and partners to subsidize these costs!

“LEAF Schools & Streets is an organization that is the lifeblood of the Asheville community. The work we do with these programs, these centers, is as essential as any service 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.”
Otto Vazquez
Resident Teaching Artist in Hop Hop Dance

Easel Rider Mobile Art Lab

 Easel Rider – Asheville’s Mobile Art Lab – is all about connecting people and art. The Easel Rider helps boost access to public art by providing interactive hands-on activities and inviting the Asheville community to experience creation on the go! City of Asheville Parks & Recreation Division has been a long time partner in supporting the Easel Rider, helping boost public access to visual art. The Easel Rider reached roughly 3,000+ youth at 170 events in 2019.

Semester Offered: SPRING, SUMMER & FALL
Cost$150 (1-3 hour session) / $300 (4-6 hour session)

Email EaselRider@theLEAF.org for more information.


Community-Driven Programs

Learning Journeys

Learning Journey Program Overview: Since 2014, LEAF has been hosting conversations for and by the local community and our LEAF teaching artists called ” Learning Journeys” These discussions give our LEAF family an opportunity to connect, engage and get inspired to the works and efforts that improve our community and the world around us. Each month, Learning Journeys are paired with a specific theme, and a speaker, panel or workshop. We are invited to share the experience, to learn, and connect. Learning Journeys will last approximately 60-90 minutes, depending on how long Q&A is.

Semester Offered: SPRING, SUMMER & FALL
CostFREE – RSVP Requested
Email GlobalArts@theLEAF.org for more info!



The “U-LEAF” (short for “Unfolding LEAF Mobile Stage”) is a one-of-a-kind mobile art stage, built in collaboration with Asheville Design Build Studio through a grant project featuring 13 scholar-shipped students hailing from 7 different universities. Drawing upon a wide range of design and technical disciplines, these students worked tirelessly for two months fabricating models, work-shopping blueprints, surveying community needs, and ultimately constructing the final product making this valuable asset available to all of Asheville.

The U-LEAF is a user friendly, safe, and mobile art platform that provides artists with an opportunity to showcase their creative talents in LEAF and community partner programs anytime, anywhere, for years to come. The U-LEAF stage is first and foremost a community asset & resource.

Our purpose for creating the U-LEAF, is to foster pathways of access, inclusivity, and community-building through the collaborative production of high integrity events in neighborhoods, community centers, public parks, and even private functions.

The U-LEAF is available in a variety of forms ranging from a simple stage deployment, to the provision of the stage with administrative support, and for a comprehensive experience – the stage deployment paired with admin and a full PA sound system. The pricing for the rental and use of the U-LEAF stage will be determined based upon the nature of your event, status of your organization (private vs. non-profit), and partnership status with LEAF Community Arts.

Semester Offered: SPRING, SUMMER & FALL
Cost: $400 (stage only) / $800 (full deployment & production per day)
Email: GlobalArts@theLEAF.org for more information

Teaching Artist Showcase

This is the field trip opportunity you’ve been looking for. Bring your students for a morning filled with music, dancing and culture. Give them the opportunity to learn about different musical styles and instruments! Also the students will get to see puppetry with a purpose and circus arts by our Inspiring Resident Teaching Artists! The LEAF Teaching Artist Showcase brings together LEAF Teaching Artist(s) and Artists in Residence in order to cultivate a mash-up of dynamic learning and exploration of music, art and artistry from local to global. This is a wonderful opportunity for Asheville’s youth to come together for the common cause of music, art, culture and FUN!

Artist groups that LEAF has partnered with in the past include: Squirrel Nut Zippers, LEAF International, The Warriors of AniKituhwa, Grandfather Mazatzin, Proyecto Jirondai, Boukman, 23 Skidoo, Jabali Acrobats, M.A.K.U. Soundsystem, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Sierra Leone All-Stars, David LaMotte & many more!

Semester Offered: Fall
Cost: $3 donation
Showcase Details: FALL- TBD
*To find out more details or schedule your class for the LEAF Teaching Artist showcase
E-mail: EaselRider@theLEAF.org


Visiting Teaching Artist Programs

Twice a year, LEAF invites performing artists from around the globe that are culturally-rooted enough to grace the Festival stage, and mission-oriented enough to lead a Visiting Teaching Artist residency with elementary, middle, and/or high school students in and around Buncombe County. It is an opportunity for youth to take the next step toward becoming global citizens and leaders – onstage and off-stage in their community.

  • Visiting Teaching Artist Selection Committee consists of Performing Arts Director, Community Relations Director, Development Director, and in some cases Executive Director.  Artists selected are individuals, national acts, and internationally touring acts who strive to empower youth.
  • A 3-5 day residency hosted in a local school and/or community center for school age children. Session can last from 1 1/2 to 2 hours per day depending on school, grade and space.
  • Each youth performer gets rockstar treatment during their showcase at LEAF Festival with (2) FREE guest passes, a swag bag sponsored by French Broad Food Co-op, a LEAF performer badge, a LEAF t-shirt, and access to the performer lounge on the day of their performance.
  • During this experience, youth have an opportunity to truly become global citizens and artistic leaders by working with role models of different cultures and dream of future possibilities!

Semester Offered: SPRING & FALL only
Showcase Details (at LEAF Festival)SPRING – TBD // FALL – TBD
Cost: Varies from $650-1500 depending on artist/size of group

LEAF Cultural Arts Catalog

2020 Spring / Summer


  • Resident Arts Programs
  • Visiting Artist Programs
  • Cultural Exchanges

& so much more!

LEAF Schools & Streets welcomes and celebrates community partnership, the spirit of collaboration and joint efforts to support the healthy development of kids & young adults. Together, we can explore how engagement can happen, keeping in mind that customization is always an option as long as there is a mission match. Costs associated with residencies, workshops, performances, cultural exchanges, and other experiences cover expenses related to Teaching Artist compensation, supplies, transportation/fuel, training and production.

Youth development is about helping them also find their inner power.
James E. Lee
Kid's superhero


From music instruments to child sponsorships, our people-centered programs depend on generous givers like you to grow and thrive. Donate today! 100% of your gift goes directly to support cultural arts education programs in the country of your choosing.