Around town: Story Parlor reflects on upcoming anniversary

SMALL BUT MIGHTY: “Stories are ripples,” says Erin Hallagan Clare, Story Parlor’s founder. “Though we are a small listening room space, we have a platform that I have seen, time and again, make a profound impact on people's lives." Photo by Matt Peiken

On Saturday, April 27, the West Asheville cooperative arts space Story Parlor will celebrate its second anniversary with an evening of local comedy and performance acts. Story Parlor will open the stage to any artist interested in performing an original, five-minute set, with the theme of “toasts, traditions and trips around the sun.”

For the past two years, Story Parlor has served as a center for multidisciplinary artists to collaborate and share their work. It has provided an outlet for community partners including Asheville Creative Arts, Asheville Fringe Arts Festival, Bilingual Birdies, The Campfireball, the Great Smokies Writing Program, Jazz Hybrid Presents, Listen to This, Lit Local, Lonesome Station, Misfit Improv & Acting School and Speakeasy Improv.

“The most exciting aspect of bringing Story Parlor to life has been forming it alongside the community,” says Erin Hallagan Clare, Story Parlor’s founder and artistic director.  “Aside from our monthly Story Mixers, just about everything else that comes through the space is dreamt up, proposed and put on by folks here in Asheville, which has made for a really enlivening look into the creative pulse of this town. We exist for and by the community and, in the span of two short years, have been so moved by the meaningful relationships and ideas that emerged out of the collective efforts that define who we are today.”

In conjunction with its anniversary, Story Parlor is opening applications for two of its signature programs: the Story/Arts Residency and the Creative Facilitator Training.

The Story/Arts Residency, which takes place the final three Thursdays of July, aims to support narrative artists from historically marginalized communities. “Stories are ripples,” says Clare. “Though we are a small listening room space, we have a platform that I have seen, time and again, make a profound impact on people’s lives. Last year, our artist-in-residence Shunyu Huang‘s mission was to ‘Strive for Unity in Diversity.’ This is a beautiful representation of what we hope to emulate in this program.” In addition to showcasing their work, the residency provides artists with a stipend, professional headshots and coaching sessions.

The Creative Facilitator Training, an 18-week program running Tuesday, May 14-Tuesday, Sept. 24, offers a foundation for creative facilitation focused on psychology and personal narrative. “The program really came to light as a response to two main things: first, how hard it can be to make a living in the arts, and second, the number of students I’ve encountered over the years who have come to class with a deep belief that they were not creative,” says Clare. “The training exists to counter both of these — debunking the myth that creativity is for a select few while paving entrepreneurial paths for creatives looking to engage with meaningful work.” Ten facilitators were certified by the Creative Facilitator Program in 2023.

Story Parlor is at 227 Haywood Road. To apply for the programs or for more information, visit

LEAF expresses gratitude

LEAF Global Arts has released its annual Gratitude Report, highlighting the community work and outreach programs it funds throughout the year to facilitate arts and cultural exchange.

LEAF is a nonprofit organization that sponsors experiences, education and cultural preservation programs designed to cultivate a global community through the arts. In 2023, the organization hosted 31 field trips for kids, 48 musical classes, and seven summer camps. Among its programs are LEAF ONEmic Studios, which provides musical production studios to youth and teens in Tanzania, Rwanda, Haiti, Costa Rica and Asheville; the Legends of the Americas project; and the LEAF Schools & Streets Program, a youth arts education initiative that focuses on cultural exchange. The program offers workshops and performance opportunities to schools, particularly in high-need communities. Other programs include LEAF Global Field Trips, 18 international exchanges and a mobile arts lab. The LEAF organization has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and Chorus America.

“I want to express my deepest gratitude to each of you for the incredible journey we’ve shared in promoting community through the sharing of culture and connection through world music, art education and meaningful experiences,” says Jim Diaz, outgoing president of LEAF’s board of directors, in the Gratitude Report. “It has been an honor to serve alongside such dedicated individuals who believe in the power of cultural preservation. LEAF embodies connection.”

The LEAF Global Arts Center is at 19 Eagle St., Suite 120. For more information or to read the full gratitude report, visit

Malaprop’s founder shares new poetry

Malaprop’s Bookstore is hosting a hybrid in-person and virtual reading event featuring new poetry from Emöke B’Rácz and fellow poet Glenis Redmond on Wednesday, April 3, 6-7 p.m.

B’Rácz is the founder and former owner of Malaprop’s. She is an accomplished artist and translator and is the author of Every Tree Is the Forest and Hopscotch on the Riverbank While Waiting.

Redmond is the first poet laureate of Greenville, S.C., and was selected as 2023 Poet Laureate by the Academy of American Poets. She has published six books of poetry and speaks for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The event is free, but due to limited seating, online registration is required.

Malaprops is at 55 Haywood St. Visit to reserve a seat. 

Downtown After Five returns

The Asheville Downtown Association has posted its 36th annual Downtown After Five lineup.  The summer concert series takes place 5-9 p.m. on Lexington Avenue on the third Friday of each month from April-September and typically draws between 5,000 and 6,000 people, transforming the city block into a festival. A portion of each concert’s proceeds will go to the designated nonprofit sponsor for that event. Each concert will take place in collaboration with these local organizations and will center on a theme. Food, drinks and locally made goods will be available at the event, which is free to the public.

The series kicks off with a psychedelic funk theme on Friday, April 19. Empire Strikes Brass will headline the event, and Magenta Sunshine will open. Comedian Kim Richardson will emcee. This event will take place in coordination with the Mosaic Art Walk, which supports 15 nonprofit organizations through the United Way.

The rest of the lineup runs as follows:

May 17: Yacht Rock Schooner will headline, Lazr Luvr will open, and DIVINE the Bearded Lady will emcee, for a Yacht Rock event in collaboration with Blue Ridge Pride.
June 21: Sierra Green & the Giants will headline, and Lyric will open for a Juneteenth celebration in collaboration with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County.
July 19: Caitlin Krisko & The Broadcast will headline, and the Greenliners will open. The event will support Asheville FM.
Aug. 16: Tito Puente Jr. will headline, and the LEAF Kono Band will open, in collaboration with LEAF Global Arts.
Sept. 20: Oliver Hazard will headline, and Paul McDonald will open for an Outdoor Rec Fest in collaboration with Riverlink.

For more information, visit

The Village Potters announces featured artist

The Village Potters Clay Center has announced its first featured artist, Caroline Reneé Woolard, according to a press release. An exhibit featuring Woolard’s work opened in the Feature Gallery at The Village Potters Clay Center on March 20 and will run through the end of May.

The exhibit features some of Woolard’s most popular forms such as mushroom mugs and “curvaceous lady vessels.” On Saturday, May 4, The Village Potters Clay Center will host its annual Multi-Kiln Opening Celebration, where Woolard will demonstrate surface design techniques and will be available throughout the day for questions.

The Village Potters Clay Center is at 191 Lyman St. For more information, contact Lori Theriault at

Local poet releases new work

Local author Tina Barr has just released Pink Moon, winner of the inaugural Editor’s Choice Award at Jacar Press. The book of poetry explores themes of powerlessness and the environment, ranging from the Cherokee plight and the Tuskegee Experiment to the Ku Klux Klan, transgressive love and familial patterns. Barr has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Tennessee Arts Commission, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The MacDowell Colony and others. This is her seventh work of poetry.

For more information, visit


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