Karamu House
Welcome to the Karamu House Home page.  We are most pleased to have an opportunity to serve you.  Whether you are thinking of seeing a live youth or adult play, inviting Karamu performers to your place for a Workshop or Residency, taking some instruction in the Arts, seeking quality childcare or just planning a visit to the oldest African-American performing Arts venue in the country........you have come to the right place!  Our programs serve all ages from our infant care to our Senior Citizens Dance Club, offering fun and education for everyone.

Education is the recurring theme in our programs.  We recently tweaked our mission statement and we think its “spot on” in terms of educational focus.  “The Mission of Karamu House is to strengthen community through quality Arts Education programs with an emphasis on African-American culture.”  So from the Theater, to the Dance studios, and from the Art classrooms to the Digital Arts computer labs all of our staff, volunteers, patrons and customers are in continuous learning mode, discovering a deeper love for the Arts while nurturing talent and creativity.

Like everyone else we have been challenged to adjust to the new leaner economy and what that means to a community based Arts Education organization.  For the staff it means we all wear multiple hats and multi-task as a way of life.  It also means we must depend on our volunteers to help us fill the gaps.  If you have ever thought about working in theater or participating in youth education programs, we would welcome your inquiry.  Beyond the challenges, 2011 yielded many laudable outcomes.  Here are some of the highlights:


  • Karamu House was chosen to receive a multi-year grant as part of a Cleveland Foundation program entitled “Engaging the Future” to help expand audience participation
  • Formed a partnership with Cuyahoga County Department of Family Services and the Adoption Network to present a custom written play about teens that age out of Foster Care without permanent homes.  The play was well received and raises awareness of the critical needs for children in our community (really powerful stuff)
  • Theater attendance increased 20% year over year. Really hot shows included a gospel musical entitled “God’s Trombones” (back this Spring) and perennial favorite, Black Nativity by Langston Hughes
  • We scheduled over forty outreach engagements in 2011 and we are booking up fast this year
  • Our early childhood program, which we like to refer to as “The Pre School of the Arts” received two computerized learning stations from IBM to enhance the education environment
  • Over 50 new donors contributed to Karamu House Programs year over year in 2011
  • Michael Oatman, Karamu House Playwright in Residence, received the prestigious Cleveland Art Prize medal for Emerging Artist.
This year we will be very busy building on our success in programming and planning for our Centennial Anniversary in 2015.  In anticipation of this historic event we are scheduling blockbuster plays and other community events for the next three seasons so make sure you are signed up on our mailing list.  We are also launching a membership campaign and we want to reconnect with all past Karamu alums and patrons and future patrons.  Sign up for future correspondence here on this site.  Thanks for visiting our website and plan to visit us at East 89th and Quincy real soon.

Gregory Ashe
Executive Director