http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vx7u9318B7w One evening in August 2000 Tayitu Cultural Center had its humble beginnings in a gathering for a book launch and reading, in the ten years since Tayitu (TCC) has become a groundbreaking non-profit (501 c 3)arts and culture organization based in Washington DC. Despite the typical challenges facing any arts institution, especially financial resources, TCC recognized that the occasional special production or church sponsored event was not going to be enough to keep Ethiopian artistic expression vibrant for coming generations and TCC stepped in to fill the void. Without a doubt, keeping an immigrant arts institution afloat for 10years has been challenging, and for its efforts TEC has been recognized locally, nationally, internationally for its work in showcasing the wealth of Ethiopian artistic expression to not only Ethiopian audiences, but to diverse international audiences as well. TCC continues its mission to conserve, renew and reinvent the rich Ethiopian cultural, social and artistic expression that is our collective legacy, while simultaneously exploring new artistic forms in our new homeland of America.
Over the last 10 years, and without interruption, TCC has held its monthly poetry night, “YeWerru Gitm Mishit”, in Washington DC on the last Friday of the month. This monthly showcase of Ethiopian literature and poetry, a place for new and emerging artistic talent in the Diasporan Community in the U.S. has become a home away from home for the disproportionately large number of Ethiopian performing artists living outside of Ethiopia. This monthly gathering has become the venue of choice for Ethiopian authors, filmmakers, musicians, playwrights and visual artists to present their works, in English as well as Amharic (Ethiopian) to an ever expanding audience.
In this monthly celebration of Ethiopian literary tradition TCC keeps Ethiopian poetry and verse alive for future generations, by inviting and hosting well-known Ethiopian writers from around the world to come present and perform their works. TCC further fulfills its mandate of keeping the rich variety of Ethiopian artistic tradition vibrant by introducing the younger audiences to classics in Ethiopian Literature that they typically would rarely have had access to. In order to further the dialogue on the universality of shared human values TCC also introduces the larger Ethiopian audiences to classics in Western literature.
From its home base of Washington DC, TCC has toured North America, Canada, and Western Europe extensively. Through its creative and educational programs TCC’s unique ability to capture the tastes, the needs of its community, its ability to reflect the pain and the sorrow, the achievements and challenges of being Ethiopian in our new homeland, has captured a loyal following in Washington DC and worldwide. TCC’s truly diverse productions, classics in Ethiopian as well as Western literature, its plays, skits and comedy routines are made available in online in several formats, for an even wider audience. Through its theatrical and variety shows, books and a variety written sources TCC maintains an ongoing dialogue with the community, unflinchingly addressing the issues within the community placing special care to address the challenges facing the youth and the elderly, essentially building a bridge between preserving our age-old traditions and embracing the best about our new lives, collectively navigating the challenges facing the community-at-large. TCC has endeavored tirelessly to reclaim that which is on the verge of being lost, to revive what may be perhaps be forgotten, to encourage and motivate those amongst that that may be faltering, and to build on positive ideals for a better tomorrow. Testament to TCC’s growing popularity is the ever growing list of invitations TCC receives to present its works to audiences throughout the US, Canada and Europe. These invitations come from far and wide requiring TCC to take its show on the road several times a year. (Please check out Upcoming events/Tayitu-on-the-road to view.)
In Washington DC alone TCC has hosted 118 poetry gatherings, staged over 29 original productions, and 6 short plays/skits. TCC has gone on the road 148 times to over 12 cities in America and 2 in Canada, as well 6 cities in Europe. On an annual basis TCC conducts the widely anticipated Literature, Poetry and Film Workshops, the educational content of these workshops is unparalleled and has been recognized as one of the cornerstones that distinguishes TCC. TCC not only provides a home for veteran artists in the Diaspora, it is a critical safe haven for new and emerging artists to develop and hone their skills. In its tenure TCC has encouraged and nurtured many a young performer to take to the stage, and budding poets to pick up a pen, and is immensely proud to count in its roster several young artists plucked from area schools and churches that now stand shoulder to shoulder alongside veteran professional actors.
Yet another popular event is the annual “Feqer Mishet” held each February, the readings and presentations are a celebration of love in all its forms, culminating in a community wide recognition (and gift certificate for a night out at area restaurants) for couples in successful marriages to take to the stage and impart their secrets of love and marriage.
One of the better attended events is the annual “YeSaq Mishet” where new comedic talent is encouraged to take the stage. In its ranks TCC boasts famous names that have called TCC stage their first home, and well known comedians that continue to call TCC their stage.
Over the last decade TCC has traveled within the U.S., Canada and Europe, forming strategic partnerships with 7 nascent arts organizations, providing the necessary support to local arts groups so they will work to ensure the preservation of Ethiopian artistic tradition wherever Ethiopians may be residing. TCC is grateful for the work done by local arts groups and churches to ensure we preserve Ethiopian rich cultural and artistic tradition. We hope to travel to meet our loyal following wherever they may be.
TCC is working towards creating a permanent home for a performing arts and cultural Center in Washington DC. Additionally in honor of its namesake Etege Tayitu, (Empress of Ethiopia 1856-1918 )TCC also hopes to build a monument in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to immortalize her unique contribution to Ethiopian history particularly in the arena of literature and the arts, and her enduring example to Ethiopian women.
Keeping an immigrant Arts organization afloat for 10 years has had, and continues to have its challenges, especially in the current economic climate and TCC would like to express heartfelt gratitude to those individuals, businesses and organizations that have encouraged the work that we do to lay the foundation of groundbreaking TCC. In particular we would like to recognize our loyal audiences and our partner arts organizations wherever they are, thank you for allowing us the privilege to perform our art and all that you do to guarantee its preservation, proving that our art does indeed transcend borders.