Considering we have been talking a lot in our classes about cultural art in various forms that contributes to a sense of community, I researched the 'Ashe (pronounced "Ash-ay") Cultural arts center in New Orleans. It is a nonprofit initiative with a mission to promote, produce, create and support programs, activities and creative works that emphasize the positive contributions people of African descent make to their communities.
The website talks about their mission in what they call the 'Post Hurricane Katrina recovery phase" and I thought this was interesting that they have such specific strategies to not only help the physical rehabilitation of the city but they also seek to regain the spiritual and healing force to rebuild New Orleans culture and their way of life to its former glory, despite the physical and emotional damage that Katrina caused. Their main project "ReBuild" seeks to:- be a leader in the strategy to re-populate the Central City neighborhood with it's former residents, and other like-minded neighbors who will work with us to establish a community that respects the values of diversity, justice, cultural fabric, strong families, strong educational resources, youth development, and a robust economy available to all. Rebuild aims to act as a producer and presenter of multi-disciplinary cultural art works throughout the New Orleans Diaspora (Katrina evacuee locations) that inform and guide the consciousness of community, public policymakers, and business leaders about ReBuild New Orleans issues; and Support and assistance for New Orleans artists and culture bearers in their efforts to resume their lives and careers.
To me, this organization is a reminder that there are more powerful cultural forces at work not just the government funded corporations that are rebuilding New Orleans but the cultural effort to rebuild community through art. Talks, workshops, groups, art days, concerts are all implemented by Ashe cultural arts to re-establish the celebration of cultural art in New Orleans and to remind the city that there is a future for its culture beyond the horror of Hurricane Katrina.