The KUUMBA Institute at Ashé commits to always do as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our communities more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it. It is our goal to inspire students to use culture and the arts to help develop their power of expression and encourage the building of relationships within the community and throughout the world. Life is the inspiration of our art; and our artistic expressions should inspire our lives as well as those in the community and throughout the world. We want to feed the cultural and artistic realm giving students fluency in various art forms, so they may be able to use art to work with life challenges. We emphasize the importance of developing our community with culture and creativity by exposing students to culture and the arts and enhancing their ability to be creative thinkers. Our goal is to enhance the academic curriculum by integrating the ARTS. We will teach values of respect and discipline to establish a system of peer support. We want to motivate students and give them a voice to express themselves verbally as well as, appreciate the expressions of others.
The KUUMBA Program
OUR PROGRAM serves students ages 6-16. Students receive specialized training in: Visual Arts,Dance,Stepping, Photography, Poetry, Arts and Crafts, Drama and African Drumming. Students are also provided with breakfast, lunch and a snack daily. In addition to providing our students with various means of artistic expressions in classroom setting, we also expose them to outside resources. Students have participated in field trip experiences to view the Wade Barnes Jazz Ensemble at The New Orleans Presbyterian, The UNO Wetlands Research Facility, The Algiers Village, the Jazz and Heritage Festival, the New Orleans IMAX and the Aquarium of the Americas. Classes are held at Ashé Cultural Arts Center, 1724 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd, NOLA 70113.
The Kuumba Institute currently offers the following programs:
YOUTH SATURDAY PROGRAM: Classes are held on Saturdays from 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM throughout the year during the Winter, Spring and Fall. Tuition costs apply.
YOUTH SUMMER PROGRAM: For seven (7) weeks throughout the summer, classes are held Monday through Friday 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM.
YOUTH KWANZAA PROGRAM: This program is held over the Christmas / New Year Holiday. Each session is concluded with a culminating experience where students share with family, friends and the community, artistic expressions which are created from instructional inspiration. Students are also invited by other community organizations to perform and showcase their works in progress. They have performed at the Jazz Fest, the Umoja Fest, Celebration of the Young Child, the Maafa, and the Holiday on the Boulevard Celebration.
The KUUMBA Curriculum
Our Curriculum is designed to enhance the academic curriculum by integrating the ARTS. By incorporating LA Benchmarks and Content Standards in our planning and curriculum, it allows our focus of integrated arts education to complement what the students already receive in their academic schools. We developed a monthly theme schedule artists use in creating their lesson plans such as: Ashe’ Cultural Arts Center’s Kuumba Institute presents a cultural arts-based curriculum to enhance student development in cultural awareness, social support, and academic excellence. Through discussion, interactive activity and reflection we encourage students to consciously define and embody their identity as community –involved and culturally aware individual scholars. The curriculum supports youth to view themselves as members of a larger social and cultural community, one that is rich in history and tradition.
This curriculum has many developmental goals including values clarification, the encouragement of positive attitudes and behavior in both academic and social settings; a greater commitment to extra-curricular and community involvement; identification of creative capacities and stronger connections to family and community . The inspiration for our work with students in the Kuumba Institute are the seven principles of Kwanzaa known as the “Nguzo Saba. Kwanzaa is an African-American celebration, it was established in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a scholar and social activist. Kwanzaa celebrates African harvest and is based on the beliefs and values of traditional African customs. It is an annual celebration that begins on December 26 and lasts for seven days. Kwanzaa means “first fruits” in Swahili, the chosen language of Kwanzaa. It is the only African-American holiday, helping African-Americans look back at their heritage and remember their roots. The goal of Kwanzaa is to put the “seven principles” into practice in daily life. The Nguzo Saba, or “seven principles” are guideposts for culturally conscious living. Nguzo Saba is a Swahili phrase that means “seven principles.” A principle is a rule or law that governs conduct in given situations. The Nguzo Saba principles emphasize basic standards of behavior for people of African descent. These values in general, stress family, community and culture, and speak to the best of what it means to be African and human in the deepest and fullest sense. The Nguzo Saba are also social and spiritual principles, which define ways for us to relate to each other and rebuild our lives with our own vision.
NGUZO SABA (THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES)
UMOJA (Unity) To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
KUJICHAGULIA (Self-determination) To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves instead of being defined, named, created for and spoken for by others.
UJIMA (Collective Work and Responsibility) To build and maintain our community together and make our sisters’ and brothers’ problems our problems and to solve them together.
UJAMAA (Cooperative Economics) To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
NIA (Purpose) To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
KUUMBA (Creativity) To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
IMANI (Faith) To believe with all our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.