Ashe Cultural Arts Center details renovations for 20th anniversary

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Architect Steven Bingler, Ashe Cultural Arts Center Executive Director Carol Bebelle and Ashe board member Al Kennedy detailed renovation plans at Ashe Power House theater.
  • Architect Steven Bingler, Ashe Cultural Arts Center Executive Director Carol Bebelle and Ashe board member Al Kennedy detailed renovation plans at Ashe Power House theater.

Ashe Cultural Arts Center Executive Director Carol Bebelle and architect Steven Bingler of Concordia described renovations to the arts and cultural center at 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. Bebelle also highlighted Ashe's mission as it begins an extended celebration of its 20th anniversary, officially falling Dec. 16, 2018.

Ashe's 18,000 square foot space hosts art shows, community events, theater and dance productions, film screenings, youth and wellness programming and more.

"Culture is taken for granted," Bebelle says. "It needs a home as well. It needs a place where people are praying, planning and working on it."

Renovations have begun at Ashe. A grant from the WK Kellogg Foundation is funding the construction of a nursing station for mothers, and Ashe will be able to add more restrooms. There will be a large welcome desk in Ashe's main space and windows will display African art, artifacts and products. A decorative wooden "bamboula wall," with an undulating design based on the bamboula rhythm, will extend the length of the space.

This rendering shows the plan for the front of the Ashe Cultural Arts Center. - COURTESY CONCORDIA
  • COURTESY CONCORDIA
  • This rendering shows the plan for the front of the Ashe Cultural Arts Center.
Ashe's celebration of its 20th anniversary begins with Holiday on the Boulevard at Ashe Power House theater (1731 Baronne St.) Dec. 15-16. On Friday, Dec. 15 there is a luncheon, holiday market and screening of the film I Am Not Your Negro with a talkback session moderated by Kalamu ya Salaam. There's also a 10 a.m. performance of the The Origin of Life on Earth: An African Creation Myth at Loyola University's Louis J. Roussel Performance Hall. On Saturday, Dec. 16, there is a marketplace, a holiday fashion show, performances by Sisters Making a Change and children from Audubon Charter School, and attendees can purchase photos with Santa Claus.

This is the first major renovation of the Ashe space, Bebelle says. The former department store has an open ground floor, and Ashe has used temporary walls to block off space for performances, art shows and community events.

Renovations have begun at Ashe Cultural Arts Center's 18,000 square foot space at 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.
  • Renovations have begun at Ashe Cultural Arts Center's 18,000 square foot space at 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.

Ashe is beginning a fundraising campaign to fund renovations, which will address structural issues, the roof, plumbing and more. It has a goal of raising $500,000 in the next year.

Ashe was founded by Bebelle and Douglas Redd, an artist who worked in fine art, commercial and graphic design. Their vision was to create a black-owned, black-run cultural center. While Ashe was originally a tenant in the space, it now owns the building and leases and runs Ashe Power House, which it hopes to purchase, Bebelle says.


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