By Emma Castleberry
While perhaps best known locally for the biannual immersive arts festivals at Lake Eden, LEAF Global Arts (formerly LEAF Community Arts) is a nonprofit organization that provides cultural arts education to more than 12,000 youth each year in WNC while supporting the preservation of timeless traditions in 10 countries worldwide.
LEAF Global Arts is celebrating its 25th birthday in a big way: on Friday, February 14, the LEAF Global Arts Center will open in the historic Club Del Cardo building in downtown Asheville. “The LEAF Global Arts Center will cultivate creative engagement, cross-cultural connections and global exchange opportunities in a family-friendly, educational and culturally inspired environment,” says Megan Ashley Crow, marketing and creative director for LEAF. “In all activities, the LEAF Global Arts Center will seek to foster global citizenship and stimulate positive social impact, leaving guests feeling more connected to the world, their community and themselves.”
The 3,300-square-foot space will feature an interactive world map where visitors can explore a wide range of cultural art forms, as well as an international immersion room and virtual reality mini-theater; a global sound underground to encourage experimentation with unique musical instruments from around the world; an intimate performance stage and interactive artist workstations. “The LEAF Global Arts Center is a culmination of the artistic celebration, cultural exploration, and family engagement that stands at the heart of LEAF Festival,” says LEAF Festival co-director Ehren Cruz. “It’s a powerful extension of LEAF events and provides an epicenter for our educational outreach efforts to shine.”
Programming will not only highlight global cultures but also engage local perspectives, honoring the history of “The Block” neighborhood where the Global Arts Center is located. “LEAF saw the impact of cultural arts education in the schools and community centers it serves and can now extend that reach to the public with affordable workshops and classes for all ages that help expand their world view and connect to their most creative selves,” says Marsha Almodovar, LEAF community engagement director.
The LEAF Global Arts Grand Opening on February 14 is a ticketed event from 6–9 p.m. Visitors can explore the space, experience the engagement stations and meet LEAF artists. There will also be complimentary food and beverages and performances by special guests.