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Cam Maybin backs LEAF arts fund drive; Squirrel Nut Zippers to play


Cameron Maybin

By Pete Zamplas- LEAF on Oct. 20-23 has a theme of Carnival of Wonder spectacles, the Squirrel Nut Zippers as among main acts, and a new philanthropic fund drive that baseball star Cameron Maybin helped launch to bolster arts projects year-round and long-term.

Maybin, 29, the Detroit Tigers center fielder, was a star at T.C. Roberson and the 10th overall draft pick in 2005. He batted .315, on-base/slugging mark of .801, and 15 stolen bases in just over a half-season limited by injuries. He was a spark plug as a fast base runner and jovial teammate for the Tigers, in his first season back with the club after playing with Atlanta.

“I believe in the power of African-American youth in Asheville, and that through music and arts they have voice to change their lives,” Maybin said. “LEAF offers youth the opportunity to find this voice within themselves. Because of that, I support the work they’re doing in our community.”

He supports the new LEAF Love Fund Campaign that festival officials said raised $780,000 from more than 60 donors including Maybin by Sept. 28.

The goal is establishing a $1 million LEAF Endowment Fund for long-term LEAF Community Arts, particularly LEAF Schools & Streets and LEAF International cultural arts exchange, education, preservation, and entertainment.

Much is in Buncombe County such as Delta House, and for Southside and Burton Street residents. LEAF has had a special link for years with New Orleans, which again is hurricane-ravaged prompting evacuations to this area.

Outreach goes around the globe. One partner is Costa Rica’s Bribri First Nation indigenous tribe, with Luis Porras Mora as LEAF’s coordinator. He thanks LEAF for providing “no frontiers where our Ngabe and Bribri artists (young and old) can be whoever they want and look at an open horizon in the future, and a power heritage in their past.”

LEAF Founder and Executive Director Jennifer Pickering noted LEAF “serves in our local neighborhoods as well as with our global partners. The LEAF Endowment Fund gives me great hope” to assure partners “LEAF is committed to working with you to preserve cultures and empower communities through cultural arts — for decades to come.”

The 43rd LEAF, at Lake Eden and Camp Rockmont in Black Mountain, calls the endowment drive the LEAF Love Fund. LEAF in its 21 years as an arts non-profit has short-term partnerships, and with the endowment can afford to commit longer-term resources.

“In this powerful time of transformation, may we never forget the importance of living our creative dreams and sharing what we love with the world,” LEAF Performing Arts Dir. Ehren Cruz stated. “Music, art, and culture has the power to inspire our minds, enliven our hearts, and awaken our souls.”

Faerie Kin stilt walkers are among roving performers, and reflect the carnival theme. This is the honeybee look. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

 LEAF “weaves communities together to foster a sense of global citizenship, generate positive youth development, and preserve cultural identity,” Pickering said. Such LEAF Vision 2020 goals were forged from six summits in the Southeast in 2014, with 350 community leaders and others. Core principles are stable growth, transforming lives, connecting cultures, and generating unity. Pickering said “We see ourselves using music, art, and festivals to create welcoming places and spaces of possibility that embrace these core values.”

The endowment will be held at the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. This fund is separate from money raised from LEAF festivals, LEAF Downtown, memberships and community special events.

Cruz calls the carnival theme full of “magic, the mystery, and the magnificence” with “sights that astound, performances that ignite your imagination, and a family adventure that you will remember.” Fire throwers, stilt walkers, puppets, Mystical Arts of Tibet, and a variety of cabaret and vaudeville performers are among spectacles.

The closing musical act is the Squirrel Nut Zippers, on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Founder Jimbo Mathus brought in singer Ingrid Lucia of Flying Neutrino fame, and “cutting edge” talent from N.O., he said. Mathus is “incredibly excited” that the band is touring this year for the first time this decade. Its hit album Hot is remastered and out on vinyl.

Electronic world fusion dance trio Beats Antique headlines Friday, at 10:25 p.m. Saturday sports gypsy rock Balkan Beat Box at 10:35 p.m., and folk rocker Dar Williams at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $10 each for a drawing at the festival, for a handcrafted Lichty guitar valued at $5,000.

Festival tickets remain as of press time, for Friday and for Sunday at $51 per adult or $42 for youths ages 10-17. Children younger than 10 get into LEAF free, with a parent. Festival tickets usually sell out ahead. Check, or /music about performers. Check about the endowment and to donate for it.

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