Archive for the ‘hidden gems’ Category

Triangle Hidden Gem – Learn about Hayti Heritage Center’s arts spaces & programming

This article is part of a continuing series on creative resources in the Triangle that are either little known, or you may have heard of them, but may be unaware of the extent of the services and resources they offer. Have an idea for a future article? Let us know.

By Taryn Oesch

With all the new arts events, venues and groups popping up all over Durham, long-time arts organizations and events are often overlooked. Last weekend was the 29th Annual Bull Durham Blues Festival at the Performance Hall at Hayti Heritgage Center.  To find out more about the Organization behind this longstanding Durham arts event, we visited Hayti Heritage Center to learn more about its mission and programming.

Director, Angela Lee, in Hayti's historic 400 seat performance venue.

Director, Angela Lee, in Hayti’s historic 400 seat performance venue.

The center opened in 1975 under the management of the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation. It’s a cultural enrichment and arts education facility whose mission, according to executive director Angela Lee, is “to preserve historic Hayti and to promote the African American experience through arts programs and events that benefit the broader community.” Booker T. Washington called the historic Hayti district “Black Wall Street,” and the Hayti Heritage Center works to honor that legacy, along with using the arts to bring communities and races together.

The center itself is the former St. Joseph’s AME Church, a national historic landmark. The beautiful venue is available for rent, with over 35,000 square feet of available space, including an auditorium that seats up to 400, community and meeting rooms, and a dance studio. There’s even affordable small office space.

Community and class rooms at Hayti, such as this Dance Studio, are available for rent.

Community and class rooms at Hayti, such as this Dance Studio, are available for rent.

The Hayti Heritage Center celebrates multiple art forms. Members of the community can sign up for classes on dance and martial arts, some for as little as $5 per class. The center also shows local artists in its Lobby Gallery – in February, the center hosted a Black History Month exhibition. At the Jambalaya Soul Slam, a staple program since 2005, local poets compete for a cash prize and membership in the Bull City Slam Team, which competes in regional and national competition every summer. The Heritage Music Series and Heritage Film Festival add to the cultural offerings.

Hayti's Lobby Gallery

Hayti’s Lobby Gallery

There’s a variety of ways artists and arts supporters can get involved with the Hayti Heritage Center and help, in Lee’s words, “preserve the heritage and embrace the experience of the arts.” Take a class, try out for the Bull City Slam Team, come to an event, rent their facility, and, of course, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.  Stop by, see the art, tour the performance venue, meet the hard-working staff and thank them for their work to continue to impact of this longstanding venue on the Durham arts community.

Taryn Oesch is an editor, writer, and long-time Raleigh resident, graduating from Wakefield High School and Meredith College. She volunteers with local arts organizations and Miracle League of the Triangle. In her free time, she plays the piano, spoils her godchildren, and battles for apartment space with her uncontrollable collection of books. Website 

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Hidden Resource – Arts Access helps bring arts to all.

by Sommer Wisher

The essence of art is complete freedom of  expression and layers of interpretation by both those creating art and those soaking it in.  No one should be excluded from experiencing multiple genres of art and Arts Access has been working hard since 1982 to ensure that does not happen.

Arts Access' "Inclusive Arts Coalition" holds regular "Lunch & Learn" networking events, this one hosted by DPAC.

According to Program Director, Betsy Ludwig, “Arts Access brings together the disability and the arts communities in North Carolina and bridges the distance between them by providing services, awareness and understanding. Our website, staff and programs work to support organizations to more effectively serve all people and for people with disabilities to locate information and increase participation in the cultural life of their communities.” Arts Access concentrates its efforts on providing audio description, consulting and training services, while the organizations website serves as an interactive online resource to connect individuals, artists, educators and organizations throughout the state of North Carolina

Initially, Arts Access was best known for its audio description services  and only in the Triangle area, but recent years have seen an expansion in its programs and its services now extend across the State.  Ludwig, who joined the organization in 2009 and has been instrumental in its recent growth, expressed her excitement about the expanding programs that are in the works.  They are working to bring more awareness and increase training for arts organizations in untouched areas of the state.  For Arts Access, it is vital that arts organizations have a handle on what it means to be accessible to the disabled community. Betsy emphasized that “many organizations have the misperception that strategies to improve access involve primarily expensive physical renovations.  Many barriers to access are programmatic and attitudinal and there are low cost strategies available to improve accessibility.”

In addition, they are making strides to make it easier for people with disabilities to participate in the arts.  “These strategies could include addressing transportation barriers to events, securing free or low cost tickets, instruction in asking for accommodations from venues, and education on what their rights are under the ADA.”  In addition, Arts Access has plans to have more school-aged programming and provide more workshops and support for Artists with Disabilities.

Arts Access seems to have eyes focused where others don’t.  They are increasing staff support and funding in order to accomplish these goals that will really impact the art community and the lives of those living with disabilities.  If you would like to get involved and help Arts Access make a difference in these areas, please contact Betsy Ludwig or visit their website

If you want to learn more about an arts organizations or businesses obligations under the American’s with Disabilities Act, how to market to people with disabilities, possible grants to increase accessibility and other issues related to accessibility, Arts Access having a Workshop on December 1st.  For more information, click here.

Sommer Wisher graduated with a degree in Youth and Family Ministry from Kentucky Christian University in 2005.  During her college career she served churches in Indiana, North Carolina and Kentucky.  Upon graduation, she took her first full-time ministry in her hometown of Kokomo, Indiana.  In 2007, she was asked to join a multi-site church plant here in Raleigh and worked with them as the Family Life Pastor until 2009.  Upon leaving vocational ministry, she sought out a local nonprofit and stumbled upon Urban Ministries of Wake County.  She has now been the Manager of Volunteer Services for 2 years and has loved every second of it.  In her free time, she loves writing, singing and serving in other countries (Zimbabwe, Haiti, Russia, Guatemala) and has an obsession with teeth!

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NCSU’s Hidden Gem Plans For New Setting

Triangle Hidden Gems – NCSU’s Gregg Museum of Art and Design

By Melinda McKee

One of the Gregg's main galleries.

There are museums where visitors feel compelled to stand at a reverent distance; where they are expected to look but not touch; where they understand they’re gazing at the work of an elite club of creators.  Not so at the Gregg Museum, an institution on a mission to make art accessible.  Here, art is not held at a distance, but placed right in the palm of your hand.

Currently tucked away in NC State’s Talley Student Center, the Gregg Museum of Art and Design is perhaps one of the Triangle’s most under-discovered treasures. After visiting the second floor galleries (often accompanied by a cellphone-guided tour), know that your exploration has only just begun.  Above this rotating exhibit space, the third floor storerooms are home to a permanent collection of more than 20,000 fascinating works of art and design, including ceramics, furniture, sculptures, photography, and more than 5,000 textiles.

But the real treasure at the Gregg lies in its storerooms.

The best part?  To see these back-room beauties, all you need do is let them know you’re coming (preferably 1-2 days in advance). Gregg Museum staff will happily lead you on a tour behind the scenes, where most museums are closed to public. And if something particular has already struck your fancy (check out the museum’s online catalogue), they’ll have it ready and waiting for your discovery, white handling gloves and all.

The Gregg Museum excels in providing hands-on experiences for NC State’s future designers and artists, complementing programs in the Colleges of Design, Textiles, and beyond. This focus is intended to energize students, says museum director Roger Manley, “to show them they have the ability to achieve these same things.”

Archived pottery and textiles.

It’s not just for students, though; the Gregg Museum is all about making art accessible to anyone with a curious or creative streak. Manley continues: “People come to our shows to a feel a point of access, to see the connection between art and themselves.”

A Beautiful “New” Home

The Gregg museum is now pursuing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make its art even more available to the public. The historic Chancellor’s Residence on Hillsborough Street is set to be renovated as the museum’s new home, along with a new 16,800-square-foot addition. Preparing to move a collection of the museum’s size is no small task, acknowledges Manley. “It’s daunting to move 20,000 things, but it’s a chance to rethink what all we’re trying to accomplish.”

Once completed, the move will allow the Gregg Museum to fulfill its potential as never before. Portions of the permanent collection will finally be on display in the main building, along with a library and lecture room, while the new wing will house state-of-the-art galleries and classrooms. The beautifully landscaped outdoor areas may one day host concerts, film screenings, sculpture gardens, and more.

Museum leaders hope to begin the renovations and construction in Fall 2012, though they must raise $4.5 million for the project before breaking ground. For more information about contributing to the Gregg Museum Campaign, please visit their website.

Special Note: Our condolences go out to the family, friends and coworkers of Dr. Lynn Jones Ennis, associate director of the Gregg Museum. Dr. Ennis recently passed away unexpectedly, leaving behind a legacy of art and many fond memories. You can read more about her life here.

Melinda McKee is a nonprofit marketing specialist and creative arts enthusiast from Raleigh, NC.

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Do you know about? The Center for Documentary Studies

This is first in a series of articles on creative resources in the Triangle that are either little known, or you may have heard of them, but may be unaware of the extent of the services and resources they offer.  Have an idea for a future article?  Let us  know.

By Teri Saylor

Sparkle and Twang is an exhibit by country music singer Marty Stuart that was on display at the CDS

A commotion outside a classroom at the Center for Documentary Studies caused heads to turn as a familiar figure led a small entourage though the Center’s downstairs gallery. He paused to glance into the room and his carefully coifed hair gave him away.  It was country music singer Marty Stuart, on his way to a concert on the Duke Campus, showing off a documentary photography project he has cultivated over 40 years.  Starting with a portrait of bluegrass music legends Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs taken in 1969, and time traveling through the turn of the new Millennium, “Sparkle and Twang” depicts kings and queens of country and blues, and includes photographs of Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe, and BB King.  A highlight of his exhibit is what is thought to be the last photograph of Johnny Cash, taken on September 8, 2003, just four days before he died.

The Center for Documentary Studies, founded in 1989 at Duke University offers and interdisciplinary program of instruction, production and presentation in the documentary arts: photography, film/video, narrative writing, audio, and other creative media.  The CDS serves as a resource for individuals and groups wishing to learn or develop documentary skills. Under graduate degrees are available to Duke University students. A certificate program in documentary arts and continuing education classes are open to anyone interested in expanding their documentary talents or taking their interest in the genre to a new level.

The Center made news recently when a new masters degree was introduced at Duke University. A unique initiative, the new Masters in Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts couples experimental visual practice with documentary arts in a two-year program.  “We continue to raise the bar,” said April Walton, learning outreach director. “We encourage people to think outside the box.”

The Center for Documentary Studies offers programs for documentarians and those who love the genre.

As far as the CDS is concerned, its students don’t have to be professional documentarians. Anyone with a good idea or a dream is welcome to take classes and to develop their ideas into projects.  “’What’s the point?’” you might ask,” Walton said. “The process is the point. The skills you gain are invaluable, and everyone is interested in adding to their skill set.”  The CDS is also home to a diverse populations of students, from the youthful college-age set, to professionals from different occupations eager to flex their creative muscles, to retirees who believe it’s never too late to see a dream project come to fruition.  “Good work is good work,” Walton said. “We don’t differentiate between student work and professional work.

Continuing education classes cost money, most of which goes to the instructors, Walton said. Duke employees get discounts, and there are unpaid internship programs, teaching assistant opportunities, partnerships with nonprofit organizations, and other ways people can participate in CDS programming.

Some documentary-lovers don’t want to create a body of work themselves, but instead enjoy the work of others.There’s room for spectators too.  “We want to provide an open and welcoming atmosphere,” Walton said. “Come visit; see our exhibits; sit on our porch; be our guest.”  The CDS hosts receptions and special events. Lectures, film screenings, and project presentations are open to the public, and most of the events are free.

For more information, check out the Center’s websites: or

Teri Saylor is a freelance writer and photographer in Raleigh. Follow her tweets @terisaylor or contact her by email.

Do you know of creative resources in the Triangle that others may not know about?  Tell us about it at!

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