Category Archives: News

Camille A. Brown and Dancers

Photo by Matt Karas

2016 Jacob’s Pillow Award-winning choreographer Camille A. Brown and Dancers perform at the Diana Wortham Theatre, Thursday Friday, February 16 & 17 at 8:00 p.m.  Ms. Brown is a versatile dancer and choreographer whose works range from light-hearted to spiritually based to politically charged to personal.

In addition to its evening performances, the company leads several educational and community residency activities during its Asheville tour stop:
– A free Community Workshop celebrating African-American social dance, February 16 at 4:00 the Arthur Edington Center;
– Pre-performance discussions led by poet, artist and community activist DeWayne Barton, at The BLOCK off Biltmore, prior to the evening performances; and
– Matinee Series performance for students, families, homeschoolers, and community groups, February 17 at 10:00 a.m.

Photo by Christopher Duggan

The Citizen-Times quotes Barton in this article:  “Black history, culture, told through dance.”

Barton, whose work with Hood Huggers supports and empowers historically black communities, said that, as a sculptor and poet, he deeply understands the value of self-expression through art.

“Art saved me,” he said. “It has a powerful way of connecting people or reaching across lines like very few things can do. But we take art for granted. I don’t think we use it to its full potential.”

But art — whether it’s dance, theater, visual exhibits — has always had a huge accessibility problem.

Young people need to first be introduced to the arts to make a connection with art, but not every child gets that opportunity — and that’s why organizations like Hood Huggers and Date My City and companies like Camille A. Brown & Dancers purposely seek out those communities to make that connection.

“You go into a neighborhood and you see a basketball court — you don’t see a stage or a platform for artists,” Barton said. “Sports have a long list of support, and they have the infrastructure for kids to practice. … How can we create that same culture around the arts so we can start identifying young artists like we do for young (athletes)?”

Fall 2016 Updates

Hood Huggers International
Updates Fall 2016
Rebuilding Affrilachia: The Art of Resilience

HoodHuggersHood Huggers International implements the Pearson Plan, offering sustainable strategies for building support pillars for resilient historically African-American neighborhoods, providing a framework for community capacity building while increasing the effectiveness of existing service programs. These strategies incorporate the arts, social enterprise, and the environment, building a culture of stability that inclusive and economically just.

Who We Serve: The Hood Huggers’ Pearson Plan uses a comprehensive, collaborative approach, working with individuals in historically African-American neighborhoods to build internal systems of support and capacity. We also work with organizations and individuals with resources, providing guidance on how to serve in ways that have a greater impact. Our work with these internal (community) and external (service providers) systems creates a new paradigm where communities determine what resources they need and want, and guide how the programs that serve them function.  

The Arts:

  • Hood Tours is an interactive tour of the history, present, and future of Asheville’s historically African-American neighborhoods. Tours incorporate poetry and music and highlight public art, artists, and cultural heritage assets in these neighborhoods. From January until November 2016, over 650 people have taken tours.
  • Partnership with LEAF Community Arts provided the ULEAF stage/sound system and Easel Rider activities for the Hillcrest Juneteenth Celebration (June) and the Burton Street Agricultural Fair (September), and Deaverview (October). Hood Huggers also curated performers for the ULEAF stage at LEAF Downtown (August).
  • Collaboration with Organic Synergy and Asheville Music Professionals led to a successful 8-week Inside/Out performing arts workshop to build foundations for a pipeline for careers in the entertainment business for neighborhood-based talents. Monthly breakfasts to build on this knowledge are now being held, and participants for future workshops are being identified.
  • Partnership with the YMI Cultural Center’s Goombay Festival (September) led to a Goombay Art Show in the YMI Gallery, featuring local artists of color. In addition, Inside/Out participants performed on both stages during the festival.
  • Provided a Hood Tour and poetry workshop to Word on the Street, a multicultural teen-run online magazine (August).
  • Working with the African American Heritage Commission and Green Opportunities on a plan to build and place historical markers throughout the community.
  • Our plan includes working with arts organizations on neighborhood-based public art.
  • The North Carolina Arts Council awarded DeWayne Barton a Mary B. Regan Residency grant. It will be used to renovate the Burton Street Community Peace Gardens, adding a performance space and more. It will also provide seed money to support art and history projects in the Shiloh and East End neighborhoods (October 2016-October 2017).
  • Signage and lights to be installed on the E.W. Pearson mural on the Burton St. Center.
  • Historical landmark sign and installation of a bell at Mount Carmel Baptist Church.
  • Sculpture entitled “Terminator” on display as a part of the Inside a Town with People show at Push Skate Shop Gallery (October – November).
  • Hood Huggers creates platforms for creative expression and pride, using the arts to contribute to community healing.

Social Enterprise:

  • Hood Tours is a social enterprise that creates opportunities for young people and supports small businesses, helping to spark more grassroots economic development.
  • Hood Tours provides a model for other businesses to learn from.
  • We maintain and distribute the Hood Huggers Green Book, a directory of African-American led organizations and businesses.
  • Another key initiative is a pilot financial literacy program in partnership with Self-Help Credit Union, IRL, City of Asheville, community members and parents. Students will develop basic financial management skills and tap into a pipeline for careers in finance or entrepreneurship (Fall 2016 semester).
  • Developing a working partnership with Asheville City Schools.
  • Twelve young people are participating in the Hood Huggers savings program. They are paid stipends for work done with Hood Huggers, and the money they choose to save is matched at the end of each month.
  • Future plan for the development of a youth-led credit unions.
  • We work to connect existing youth programs with each other and with businesses and volunteers in our target neighborhoods, providing a platform for youth skill-building and mentorship.

The Environment:

  • Hood Tours highlights neighborhood green spaces and community gardens.
  • Establish additional green spaces to help strengthen community connections to nature.
  • We are partnering with Everybody’s Environment to support the creation of a pipeline for African-American youth to pursue careers in the environmental field.
  • Member of the Urban Agriculture Alliance, an alliance supporting urban agriculture initiatives to address root causes of poverty, injustice, and inequity within the local food system while utilizing a collective impact framework.
  • Hood Huggers is aligning with the United Nations’ Goals for Sustainable Development.
  • Member of the I-26 ConnectUs Project. Advocating for equity in community reinvestment
    and opportunities in the historically African American neighborhoods that are impacted.
  • Helping to establish Smith Mill Creek as a greenway connected to other greenways.
  • Part of an Environmental Task Force investigating the possibility of working with Duke Energy to promote public education on lowering carbon footprints.

Thanks to Our Financial Supporters:
Buncombe County Health & Human Services
Amy Madel and Katina Rodis Fund
The Lawson Family
North Carolina Arts Council

Want to Engage with Hood Huggers?
1. Join our email list for updates and event announcements.
Take a Hood Tour or two (different options available).
3. Encourage others to take Hood Tours.
4. List your black-owned business in the Hood Huggers Green Book.
5. Support the businesses and organizations in the Hood Huggers Green Book.
6. Rent the Burton Street Community Peace Gardens for an event.
7. Have other ideas? Let’s talk!


DeWayne Barton Honored

DeWayne Barton was given an award for his community service by the UNC Asheville History Department on October 27 at the Third Annual African Americans in WNC conference.

Dr. Darin Waters with DeWayne Barton at the African Americans in WNC Conference
Dr. Darin Waters with DeWayne Barton at the African Americans in WNC Conference

DeWayne Barton Awarded Mary B. Regan Artist Residency

north-carolina-arts-councilWe are excited to announce that the North Carolina Arts Council has awarded DeWayne a Mary B. Regan Community Artist Residency, a grant designed to support innovative artist-in-residence projects in communities in North Carolina. The award was conceived to honor Mary’s long-held beliefs in the importance of the contributions of artists and the transformative potential of creativity to community life. He will be using the grant to renovate the Burton Street Community Peace Gardens, adding a performance space and more. He will also use the grant to provide seed money to support art-related projects around the city.


Burton Street Agricultural Fair


Burton Street Agricultural Fair
Saturday, September 17, 1 – 8 pm
Burton Street Community Center

The Burton Street Agricultural Fair is organized by the Burton Street Community Association and Staff, and highlights the history and contributions of E.W. Pearson and other important community leaders. This free event includes music, art, food and children’s activities.

The spirit of the Burton Street Agriculture Fair is it’s a “People’s Fair” and this year, the Burton Street Community Association will collaborate with RiverLink, Asheville Design Center, Mountain True, Asheville Greenworks and Wildlands Engineering to present information on an on-going watershed planning and restoration in Smith Mill Creek, as well as the future vision for the stream corridor adjacent to the neighborhood, as conceived by the Burton Street Community. Printed materials, staff & volunteers will be available to facilitate discussion and answer questions pertaining to watershed, greenway, and other planning initiatives.


E.W. Pearson and his daughter Annette at the 1945 fair.