Media Contact:
Viola T. Johnson Blunt
(504) 813-9008 

NEW ORLEANS, LA (January 15, 2015)- Ashé Cultural Arts Center announces its January schedule of events. The new year kicks off with activities for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s birthday, moves on to AfroFuturism with author Ytasha Womack, attempts to help smokers curb their habits, and more.

Meanwhile, the fitness program offerings have been beefed up to include Cuban Casino, African, and Haitian dance classes; while the members of the quilting class have created fabulous works of art that will soon adorn the walls at Ashé before some of them make their way to Montpellier, France.

And finally, with bittersweetness we announce a salute in tribute to the life of actor/director/producer/poet Ed Bishop who recently succumbed to cancer. Artists are asked to come in and pay homage to a man who loved life, and was steadfast in his attempt to complete his theatrical series before his illness would prevent him from doing so.

As usual, there's something for everyone at Ashé.

The schedule follows:


Bookoo Rueda "Casino" Dance Class
Wednesdays, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Ashé Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA
Free and open to the public
New at Ashé: "CASINO" - the dance, that is. Wednesdays, 7-9 p.m.; Thursdays, 6 p.m. at Ashé.
Says Abril Sutherland of Bookoo Rueda: "Casino is a derivative of a much older Cuban dance form known as 'Son' - the mother of many popular dances, including Salsa, Rumba, and Cha Cha Cha, all of which were created in Cuba among its heavily Afro-centric population. Casino is danced in a circular motion, as opposed to in a straight line like mainstream 'salsa' and can be danced with a single partner or in a group circle, known as the 'Rueda,' which means 'wheel.'
"Taught by Kevin Braxton, it begins with instructions on basic movements, gradually building to complex patterns that involve switching partners. It is called Rueda de Casino. Hence, our name, Bookoo Rueda, reflecting our local connection, as well. "Rueda de Casino is an extremely fun social dance, and we believe that this partnership offers something new and exciting to the community." For more information, call (504) 569-9070.

Community Cinema presents "A Path Appears"
January 16, 2015 | 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Ashé Cultural Arts Center | 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA
Free and open to the public
From the creative team that brought you the groundbreaking Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, A Path Appears investigates young women in America who are forced into a life of prostitution and the innovative programs that have evolved to achieve remarkable results in empowering their lives. Sex trafficking and prostitution. Domestic slavery. Teen pregnancy. The devastation of poverty. These troubling situations are happening not just halfway across the world, but also in our own backyards. Stay for the talk back discussion with guest panelists Kara van de Carr, founder and executive director of Eden House, and Beth Salcedo, co-founder and director of Free Indeed Home. The event is free. RSVP by calling (504) 569-9070.

"Nonviolence: The Only Road to Freedom" - an art exhibition
January 17, 2015 | 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Ashé Cultural Arts Center | 1724 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA
Free and open to the public
The National Conference of Artists invites the public to attend its 17th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Art Exhibition, which kicks off with a reception and panel discussion. The theme this year is Nonviolence: The Only Road to Freedom. Artists were asked to create pieces that directly connected to the theme. The exhibit runs through March 7, 2015; and can be viewed 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, except during events. It is free and open to the public. For more information on the art exhibition, contact Charlie Johnson at (504) 715-8137 or via email at

"Lift Every Voice and Sing"
January 18, 2015 | 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Ashé Cultural Arts Center | 1724 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA
Free and open to the
Join us for Ashé's annual Lift Every Voice and Sing Concert, a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This community-sing features African-American liberation music, as well as freedom and healing songs from the Civil Rights Era. The event's producer, Michaela Harrison, has assembled a slate of amazing local artists and musicians to share their musical testimonies, including Rev. Lois Dejean, Deacon John Moore, Sharon Martin, Topsy Chapman & Solid Harmony, Kelly Love Jones, Wendi O'Neal, Michaela Harrison, and others. Bring the whole family, and just sing. For more information, call (504) 569-9070

ASHÉ WILL BE CLOSED - In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday
January 19, 2015
We will resume regular business activities on Tuesday, January 20, 2015.

New Orleans Diplomacy Council Meeting
January 21, 2015 | 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Ashé Cultural Arts Center | 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA
Closed Meeting-By Invitation
The New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council's work is based upon the concept of citizen diplomacy, the idea that, in a vibrant democracy, the individual citizen has the right--even the responsibility--to help shape foreign relations "one handshake at a time." In practical terms, citizen diplomats are professionals, families, students, interns, and travelers who make an impact by reaching out to individuals from other countries to build bridges of mutual understanding. The New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council is a nonprofit organization that offers ordinary New Orleanians and Louisianians the opportunity to be citizen diplomats.

AfroFuturism - A Talk by Author Ytasha Womack
January 24, 2015 | 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Ashé Cultural Arts Center | 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA
Free and open to the public
The public is invited to come out and meet award winning author, Ytasha Womack, as she discusses and signs her book Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture. Womack is winner of the 2014 Locus Awards, Nonfiction Category.

In this hip, accessible primer to the music, literature, and art of Afrofuturism, Womack introduces readers to the burgeoning community of artists creating Afrofuturist works, the innovators from the past, and the wide range of subjects they explore. From the sci-fi literature of Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, and N. K. Jemisin to the musical cosmos of Sun Ra, George Clinton, and the Black Eyed Peas', to the visual and multimedia artists inspired by African Dogon myths and Egyptian deities, the book's topics range from the "alien" experience of blacks in America to the "wake up" cry that peppers sci-fi literature, sermons, and activism. With a twofold aim to entertain and enlighten, Afrofuturists strive to break down racial, ethnic, and social limitations to empower and free individuals to be themselves

Police Consent Decree Informational Community Meeting
January 27, 2015 | 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Ashé Cultural Arts Center | 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA
Free and open to the public
The public is invited to come out and hear the latest news on the Police Consent Decree. Come out and get your questions answered. Be aware of what's going on in your city.

YLC Membership Mixer
January 27, 2015 | 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Ashé Cultural Arts Center | 1724 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA
It's a New Year and new opportunity to get involved. We'll have food and drinks on hand. This event is open to current members and friends, and those who are interested in learning more about YLC. Call (504) 585-1500.

Workplace Wellness Luncheon presents "Going Up in Smoke: Ending the Stronghold of Tobacco in New Orleans through Faith-Based Partnerships"
January 29, 2015 | 12:00-1:30 p.m.
Ashé Cultural Arts Center | 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA
Free and open to the public
This month's speaker, Andrea McNeil, is a speaker, trainer, and coach who specializes in helping business owners incorporate their faith into business operations. She believes churches and other faith-based institutions are the most influential and trusted organizations of communities. She is the faith-based outreach consultant for Smoke-FreeNOLA ordinance effort proposed by Councilmember Latoya Cantrell which is currently under consideration by the full New Orleans Council. She obtained her ministry certificate from Ever Increasing Word Training Center and believes in Speaking the Truth in love. Ms. McNeil will discuss her work to: 1.) Assist church leaders free their congregation members and loved ones from the grips of nicotine addiction; 2.) Empower the community to institute tobacco-free behaviors and policies including the ordinance; and 3.) Provide faith-based leaders educational materials on FREE cessation programs offered through the State of Louisiana to disseminate to their congregations in an effort to decrease smoking rates.

Join us for our monthly Workplace Wellness Luncheon. Each month we bring in speakers to address topics of interest to you, based on surveys collected from participants. Come and hear information focused on your general health and well-being. . For more information, call (504) 569-9070.

Barbershop Meetings/Fathers' Time - Men on the Move
January 7, 14, 21, 28, 2015
Wednesdays | 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. - Various Locations - See Below
Free and open to the public

January 14 - LOCATION: Ashé, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA. Book review and discussion: Breaking the Curse of Willie Lynch. Brothers will be assigned to various ministries, depending on their interest.
January 21 - LOCATION: Ashé, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA. TOPIC: Fathers' Time Housekeeping, plus the discussion continues on Breaking the Curse of Willie Lynch
January 28 - LOCATION: BlackStar Books and Caffe, 800 Belleville Street, NOLA. TOPIC: Fathers' Time Ministry. Brothers will be assigned to various ministries, depending on their interest.

Calling all men. The Barbershop Meeting / Fathers Time focuses on issues of importance to the growth and well-being, especially of young men. So join the men who come out and learn from each other. Take in an interesting and informative seminar or film, and share your dreams and disappointments. Men of all ages are invited to join the lively discussions and to give input and support based on their life experiences. This meeting affords the opportunity for goal-setting and reflections. Come and bring a few friends. Peter Nakhid leads the discussions. For more information, call (504) 569-9070.

Kick Butt in the New Year - Get Down with Sistahs Making a Change
January 5, 8, 12, 15, 22, 26, 29, 2015 (no class January 19, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday)
6:00 - 8:00 p.m. | Every Monday and Thursday
Ashé Cultural Arts Center | 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., New Orleans
Free and open to the public.
No dance experience required.

Mondays (No Class Jan. 19)
January 5, 12, 26 6:00 p.m. African Dance with Mariama Curry
7:00 p.m. Healing Touch with Menhati Singleton
January 8, 15, 22, 29 6:00 p.m. Casino (Cuban Dance) with Kevin Braxton
7:00 p.m. Haitian Dance with Baderinwa Rolland

We're fine tuning our bodies, recharging our social dancing skills, and getting our minds right. Get fit and toned with Sistahs Making a Change. Dance offerings change every 6-8 weeks and include African, Salsa, Haitian, Tap, Line Dance, Contemporary, Chicago-Style Stepping, Secondline, Zumba and more. So join up with the "sistahs" as you exercise and dance your way to wellness. The program is directed by Jamilah Peters-Muhammad, a registered nurse and professional dancer. The program offers dance, educational films and information, nutrition, and all aspects of health and wellness. A nutritious meal is served after each class. For more information, call (504) 569-9070, or just show up in exercise gear or comfortable clothing ready to move. Donations are appreciated.

Kuumba Institute Saturday Program
8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. each Saturday
Ashé Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA
Kuumba Institute, Ashé's youth program for children ages 6 to 16, is up and running. Expose your youngster to a cultural, educational and entertaining Saturday program where students receive specialized training in drama, dance, poetry, photography, martial arts, drumming, visual arts and exciting field trips. A healthy breakfast, lunch and a snack are served. Tuition is only $40 a month for one child and $80 per month for a family of up to three children. Visit Ashé Cultural Arts Center to pick up and complete your application today. You can also obtain an application by visiting and scrolling down to the Kuumba Flier. The program's coordinator is Kesha McKey. For more information call (504) 569-9070.

Standing in the Shadows (no more) Workshops
EXTENDED (each Tuesday) | 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Ashé Cultural Arts Center | 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA
Free and open to the public
"Standing in the Shadows (no more)" has been extended. We're excited to have more time to work on creations that will hang, not only at Ashé, but many will make it to a gallery in France. How's that for motivation? The talented participants are still producing incredible pieces, so come on over. Bring your imagination and join in the fun for a series of narrative quilting workshops led by visual poet artist Jacquelyn Hughes Mooney. These workshops will provide participants with opportunities to incorporate their own compelling personal stories as they create vibrant, jazzy, contemporary, quilted textile collages. Finished quilts will be formally exhibited at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center from March 3-April 30, 2015. "Standing in the Shadows" will then embark on a national & international tour in the fall of 2015 with its 2nd "thread" in Montpellier, France, where select quilts will be shown. This is not "just" a quilting class. Those interested do not need any sewing experience. Be sure bring a pair of fabric scissors, and if you desire, fabrics you can share at this communal event. For more information, call (504) 569-9070.

So Good: A Tribute to Ed Bishop
January 30, 2015 | 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Ashé Cultural Arts Center | 1724 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA
Free and open to the public
Ashé Cac will open its doors at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, January 30 to celebrate the warm, loving, accomplished life of the director-producer-poet, Baltimore's Ed Bishop, artistic director of American Theatre Project of New Orleans. Tributes begin at seven. More details to come. To help bring the tribute to life, contact Michael Scott Martin at To perform during the tribute in Ed's honor, contact Sherri Marina at