Posts Tagged ‘Jambalaya Soul Slam’

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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