LEAF Global Arts

 Click Images to Tour the Present, Future & Past.

“The shortest distance between two people is a story, a song or a dance.”
~Masankho Banda of Malawi , LEAFer for 18 years

LEAF Global invites you to explore the world through immersive music & art experiences & cultural connections, fostering global citizenship and opening pathways of understanding…for kids to elders. LEAF is creating a Global Arts Center in the historic Club Del Cardo on Eagle Street with plans to open in early 2020.This engaging experience is being designed for Cultivating Cultural Curiosity” while honoring the rich history of the place. Locals and visitors can enjoy educational experiences rooted in music, art, community and culture. The 3,300 sq. ft. center will feature an interactive world map where visitors can explore a wide range of cultural art forms, an international immersion room that will transport visitors across the globe through a sensory experience, and a global sound underground to encourage experimentation with unique musical instruments from around the world. A virtual reality mini-theater, intimate performance stage and an area dedicated to preserving the history of the Club Del Cardo are also highlights of the Center.
 The center will feature different cultural arts classes and a wide variety of workshops and events! offered by international, national, and local Teaching Artists, will serve as a bridge for global connections. A creative space for a more inclusive Asheville!


LEAF Global Arts Experiences

Locals and visitors can enjoy Classes & Workshops or our exciting educational Field Trips
focused on experiences rooted in music, art, community and culture. 


to the

Valentine’s Day Weekend

We’re excited to share the new LEAF Global Arts experience
and invite you to join us for our opening festivities!

LEAF Members & The Block Neighborhood Preview
Thursday, February 13 | 5-9pm
To all LEAF Members & Block Neighborhood Community, we offer a preview in gratitude to YOU for your support in bringing this center to life! Invites forthcoming, please CLICK HERE TO RSVP.

Ribbon Cutting
Friday, February 14 | 3-5pm
Join us for an inaugural moment celebrating this pivotal next level of LEAF.

Grand Opening Celebration
Friday, February 14 | 6-9pm
Join us in celebration! We invite you to an evening of music, dance, and exploration of this new bridge from our community to the world! Tickets $75 (includes two drinks and light dinner). CLICK HERE TO JOIN US 

After Party
Friday, February 14 | 10pm-12pm
Enjoy New Orleans Legends — Dirty Dozen Brass Band @ The Grey Eagle
LEAF Global Celebration attendees will receive a discount code to purchase tickets to the party!

LEAF Loves Asheville Day
Monday, February 17 | 11am-7pm
With LEAF Love & Gratitude to our local community, enjoy complimentary admission all day!


Click images below to learn more about classes & workshop and register!


For field trip information, click image below or contact Marsha Almodovar at

LEAF is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with a talented and diverse team of longtime LEAFers and local community leaders to help bring its work, vision and mission to life in the Center.

LEAF Global Team
Project Manager: Miriam Gee – COEverything
LEAF Navigators + LEAF Board
Project Curators: Nex Millen, Roy Harris, River Guerguerian, Farhad Javedi, Bahram Dahi, Adama Dembele, Juanita Jackson, Bob Doss, Mark Hennegan, Jefferson Ellison, Paul Gallimore, Beni Ramseth, Helme Calfee & other superstar LEAFers.



LEAF Compass Advisors

Global Visionaries helping keep LEAF on “true north” and on our mission path.
Judith Ann Abrams, NY, NY, Broadway Producer  • Alexandra & Don Clayton, Asheville, NC + St. Maarten, International Business Entrepreneur • Bootsy & Pepperminte Patti Collins, Cincinnati, Ohio, Masters of FUNK! • Charles Gwinn, Winston Salem, NC, Developer/ International Consultant • Darrell Rose, Charlottesville 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, Asheville, NC + Philippines, Poet • Kinobe, Kampala, Uganda, Dance of Hope • Kiran Singh, Jonesboro, TN + Scotland, Jonesboro Storytelling Festival • Lisa Ruberti, NY, NY, Bennetton, Donna Karen • Masankho Banda, Malawi, International Peace Builder + Educator • Natalia Clavier, NY, NY, Thievery Corporation • Tom Pryor, NY, NY, Music Journalist + Media Consultant • Greg Lucas, New Orleans, Preservation Hall

As LEAF looks toward an August 2019 opening, there are exciting ways to get involved with this project. Corporate and individual support welcomed and naming opportunities available.

Engagement Strategist: Bill Taylor
Contact LEAF Office:

828.68-MUSIC [686-8742]


“LEAF is an energetic, vibrant group with a global vision. Their project will bring new culture and diversity to our city
that will be a perfect complement to the very core of Asheville’s identity. There is nothing more powerful than creating positive change
in our own community that will have a lasting positive impact felt far beyond our own borders.” 

Robert Foster

Committee Chair, TPDF


What is LEAF’s Mission?

LEAF Community Arts, often referred to as just “LEAF”, is a non-profit 501C(3) organization, building community, connecting cultures and enriching lives through the arts – locally and globally – with festivals, community events, and cultural arts education programs. LEAF’s mission is fulfilled through its cultural arts education programs LEAF Schools & Streets (local) and LEAF International (global) and 3 yearly signature events: LEAF Festivals (May & Oct in Black Mtn), and LEAF Downtown AVL in partnership with City of AVL (1st August Friday/Saturday in Pack Square Park).

What is LEAF?

In 1995, LEAF was founded as a festival. In 2004, LEAF transformed into a non-profit organization to better fulfill the mission and community gaps of cultural music and arts. Upon its origin, LEAF rose as an entrepreneur in the festival field through creating a festival targeting intergenerational families and presenting a wide expanse of musical genres and cultural arts to its patrons. It was created as a small festival gathering with a global vision, and has transformed over the years to a medium size non-profit on a mission dedicated to local and global youth development, cultural preservation, creating engagement that helps breaks down “isms”, builds understanding, ignites cultural curiosity, educates, informs, family traditions, and cultivates positive global citizenship through music and arts.

What does LEAF stand for?

In 1995, LEAF was an acronym honoring the place and history at Lake Eden where the festival was founded. In 2013, LEAF’s originating acronym became history and the new evolved name became LEAF Community Arts representing LEAF’s dedication to its mission and cultural arts education work locally and globally. While the festival still remains a core signature event bringing all of LEAF’s work together it is referred to as LEAF Festival, and the acronym is no longer used.

What is the name of LEAF’s Global Arts Center?

“LEAF Global Arts Center” was the originating concept, and it will be simply known and called “LEAF Global”

What is the vision?

“LEAF will be a pioneer in the world of music and festivals as they move into having a Global Arts Center”- Masankho of Malawi

“Creating a magnetizing experience, and each time you return you get to go deeper, elevate, and cultivate. “ – Ehren Cruz

LEAF Community Arts (LEAF) connects cultures and creates community through music & arts locally and globally. Our mastery of cultural programming for all ages through signature events LEAF Festival and LEAF Downtown and cultural arts education programs throughout Buncombe County with over 30 partners and in 10 countries is exceedingly unique. LEAF’s vision for TPDF funding is to create the LEAF Global Arts Center, which will give a year-round bricks & mortar connection to LEAF’s immersive brand experience and mission that our loyal audience built over the past 23 years can currently only access 10 days a year. LEAF will cultivate creative engagement, cultural curiosity, and global exchange opportunities in a family-friendly culturally-inspiring environment, at the centrally located downtown historic Del Cardo Building. The design is such that it could be replicated with customizations anywhere in the world.

What are the objectives + goals for positive impact upon each visitor?
  • Discovery of at least 3 Countries or Cultures a visitor had not previously known existed.
  • Listening to new musicians or genre(s).
  • Fostering Global Citizenship. Feeling of being a global citizen, and inspired to make a NEW life leap of helping, learning or supporting a global initiative.
  • Get a passport, use the passport, or help someone go on a travel cultural journey.
  • One new life global learning discovery through a conversation or experiences
  • Experiences and exposure that increase each person’s curiousity
  • Cultural Awareness & Engagement that creates a path towards positive Social Impact
  • Education about Cultural Customs and traditions
  • Cultural Preservation and the link with Music and Art
  • Raising Awareness of LEAF’s Community Programs

9 Eagle Street, Asheville NC 28801

Corner of Eagle & Market Street in downtown Asheville in the historic African American Business District often referred to as “The Block”.

Owner & Historical Overview of Eagle Market Place Project?

The owner is Eagle Market Street Development Corporation in partnership with Mountain Housing Opportunities.

Click here to see the Historical Overview and Eagle Market Place Plan 2013

What is the timeline?

As with all construction projects, LEAF is flowing with the construction crews, planning and creating all the details, and planning on opening Fall 2019.

Is LEAF Renting?

Yes. LEAF will be a leasing + programming partner of the designated LEAF spaces.

What is the Shared Statement of Values between MHO-EMSD and LEAF?

LEAF Community Arts (here in after referred to as “LEAF) is honored to be working with Mountain Housing Opportunities and Eagle Market Street Development to create LEAF’s Global Headquarters at 19 Eagle Market Street and to bring to life common spaces with cultural arts programming. LEAF is dedicated to honoring the rich African American history, and working with elders, community leaders and youth for cultural preservation, being a resource hub as well as connecting the past to being part of building a vibrant future. LEAF’s mission of “connecting cultures & creating community through the music & arts” will come to life in this extraordinary historic space. Cultivating global cultural curiosity as well as an understanding of the rich historical past of the space is the essence of the vision. Engagement opportunities will be created to bridge local and global, young and old, past and future, and the local community with our city’s visitors. All three organizations have complementary missions, and are dedicated to the health and well being of our local community.

How long does LEAF envision being here?

LEAF has a 5-year agreement with 3 additional rollover agreements to secure a 20-year lease. It is LEAF’s intention to create this as a sustainable long-term complement and asset to the community.

What will be the hours of operation?

Center basic operating hours will be Tuesdays – Saturday, 11am -7pm. Moonlight hours for special events and programming Thursday – Saturday 7pm-11pm. Closed on Mondays to the general public, but workshop and rental space will be available this day.

Who will be the target audience?

LEAF’s target audience is families of all ages, youth ages 4 – 18, educators, artists, and especially LEAF Schools & Streets youth and families. The primary audience in the first year will primarily be composed of our local community, LEAF Festival and Downtown attendees. We expect the audience to consistently be 60% local visitors and 40% out-of-market visitors. It is our intention that this place will serve as a natural bridge between tourists and the community, and that through visiting the center the tourism market will help support community cultural arts programming and create resource links. LEAF is dedicated to creating a multicultural, racially and socially, diverse audience and community where one can feel the world comes together, and the local African American history is honored in both the staff and audience representation.

Will LEAF continue to operate LEAF Schools & Streets at other sites?

Yes! LEAF’s dedication to our local LEAF Schools & Streets partners will continue at partner site, and with a continuing reflection and review to adapt according to community needs and visions. In 2004, LEAF Schools & Streets was inspired by Jackson family youth asking for arts in their communities. It formed with a priority working with communities of Color and historic African American communities where there is a need and request. The Global Arts Center will expand LEAF Schools & Streets work, and provide more opportunities for learning, engagement, elevating their cultural arts programs, more cultural exchanges, and it will be a place they are not only welcome downtown they have job and mentoring opportunities. LEAF is dedicated to the Block being a place where the African American leaders of the future can connect to the past while defining their version of the present and future.

Will LEAF be hiring and creating job opportunities and for whom?

Yes! Specific exhibit and engagement stations will be curated by members of that country or culture that is being shared. By early winter, LEAF will be releasing what jobs will be open, and it will be encouraged for people from African American communities to apply. It is anticipated in the beginning to have 2-3 part/full time openings, paid and unpaid internships, mentoring, curatorial contract work, and a team of 4-10 Welcome Ambassadors of elders and youth that have a relationship to the Block. It is imagined the Welcome Ambassadors to be structured similar to Chamber of Commerce welcome teams. LEAF’s current year around staff, Board, and Board Emeritus represent many groups and cultures. In addition, performing and teaching artists and culture keeper will have more paying opportunities for residencies, murals, art installations, pop up visiting artists, special events, and workshops.

Will there be a cost/entry fee?

Entry fees are intentionally set low ($5-10 recommended donation) to ensure equitable and high volume access. LEAF Members and LEAF Schools & Streets young artists and families will have access with just a $1 recommended donation.

Will there be other costs?

The general experiences will all be included, and there will be additional experiences, classes, artwork, snacks or light beverages, and merchandise available for costs and purchase.

What can we experience at the hub?

Global engagement stations that cultivate your curiosity and make you feel connected to other places, music, cultures and language and people around the globe. Annually LEAF works with over 500 artists from over 50 cultures and countries. A majority of the countries LEAF works with are in the global south, which are communities of color. The cultural exchanges that are created through LEAF experiences bring people together in ways that are beyond all borders. At the hub, kids can meet, learn from and engage with other youth and artists from places like Haiti, Tanzania, Rwanda. Cultural exchanges through music, art, food, and just hanging out, we have witnessed to be one of the most powerful life-enhancing tools. This connection will be possible in person, Skype, and video, and these connections will be able to be continued through future events and technology.

What will the hub feel like?

Like you stepped into a Global world of music, arts and connections. It feels magical, inviting, and stirs your curiosity, vibrant music, often live, creates the backbeat soundtrack. Imagine the vibrant energy of LEAF Schools & Streets, LEAF International and LEAF events all coming together!

Will it be accessible?

Yes. There are a variety of accessible access points into the building, and the elevator is fully accessible. Inside the LEAF hub, we are working with the architect to insure accessibility to all spaces- it is tricky and a priority.

Where will LEAF’s Headquarters be located?

For the initial phase, LEAF’s headquarters will be located on the 2nd floor above the Global Arts Center, which will be on the main floor, mezzanine, and lower areas. If after 5 years, there is community and visitor need for the hub to expand, at that time it can be considered for the hub to extend to the second floor and the offices relocate nearby.

Where will people park?

There are several public parking garages within 1-3 blocks, street parking and municipal lots. There are several very close handicap parking spaces. We will be exploring several options for 10-15 year around parking spaces.

What is LEAF’s commitment to the history of the space and The Block?

LEAF is honored to be part of Eagle Street’s future, and being part of celebrating and remembering the rich past. As we step into this historic space, we seek leadership from the African American leaders. In the center, there is an area planned dedicated to the history of the Club Del Cardo curated by local elders, a kiosk connecting visitors to local partners and community resources curated by a local African American leader, and the windows are available for the YMI to curate to encourage visitors to step across the streets and discover mores historical information at the YMI. Imagine a kiosk where people can share their stories and memories of the Del Cardo during its rich past. There will be a dedicated station for partners to share their offerings and resources as both a marketing and connection tool.

What are ways that people can share their stories of The Block?

“Having elder hostess/ambassadors from that time to point out to visitors what the Block was and be able to give a small history of it will be amazing. The Block meant so much to my African American community that giving this a chance to speak on it will keep the memory alive.” –Deborah Bryant, LEAF Board Chair

There will be dedicated space and programming to Club Del Card stories and history with the Elders. This will be curated by the Curator of the local area as well as the Welcome team.

How will LEAF’s Global Arts Center be a resource to the local community?

LEAF is dedicated to creating a place and space that is equitable and recognizes the powerful African American heritage through various planning and programming choices with a goal of at least 50% representation from communities of color in the center staff, artists, presenters, and partner program connections. Participants will have earning opportunities as well as marketing and promotional opportunities for their businesses. There will consistent listening to other community needs such as space to use for rehearsal, local partners gatherings, and community programs. A driving inquiry will be “What will the Global Arts Center provide that may match the needs of others and partner organizations?.” This continual inquiry and reflection will lead to enhanced partnerships, collaborations as well as resource streams; therefore, a healthy growing endeavor.

How can I learn more or give my insights, ideas and get engaged?

15 + 14 =

This project is made possible in part with support from the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority.