One evening in August 2000, Tayitu Cultural Center (TCC) had its humble beginning at a gathering for a book launch and reading. It has since become a trailblazing non-profit (501 c 3) organization that nurtures the arts and culture of Ethiopia and promotes it among the uniquely diverse community of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area where the organization is based. Despite the many challenges faced by community-based arts and cultural institutions, TCC recognized early on that the occasional special production was not going to be enough to keep Ethiopian artistic and cultural legacy vibrant for coming generations and stepped in to fill the void. TCC has been recognized locally, nationally and internationally for its work in showcasing the wealth of Ethiopian art and culture to diverse international audiences despite the many challenges it was confronted with. TCC continues its mission of conserving and revitalizing the rich Ethiopian cultural, social and artistic treasure while simultaneously exploring new artistic forms in our new homeland of America.
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 penchant to cater to the needs of the community in which it is anchored, its ability to reflect the community’s joy and sorrow, the achievements and challenges of being Ethiopian in our new homeland, has captured a loyal following in Washington DC metro area and worldwide. TCC’s truly diverse productions, classics in Ethiopian as well as Western literature, its plays, skits and comedy routines are made available online in several formats for an even wider audience. Through its theatrical and variety shows, books and other written sources, TCC maintains an on-going dialogue with the community, with particular emphasis on the youth in order to catalyze the preservation of the age-old Ethiopian tradition and embracing the best of our new domicile. A 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.
In Washington DC metro area alone, TCC has hosted hundreds of poetry gatherings, staged dozens of original productions, and short plays/skits. TCC has gone on the road hundreds of times to several cities in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. On an annual basis, TCC conducts the widely anticipated and acclaimed literature, poetry and film Workshop, the educational content of which distinguishes TCC as the only organizations that host such an event. TCC not only provides a home for veteran artists in the diaspora but is the platform whereupon new and emerging artists develop and hone their skills. TCC has encouraged, given the wherewithal and nurtured many young performers to take to the stage and budding poets to pick up a pen.
Tayitu also hosts yet another crowd favorite, the annual “yefiqr mishit” held each February. During this event, readings and other forms of presentation celebrate love in all its forms, culminating in a community-wide recognition (and a gift certificate for a night out at area restaurants) for couples in successful marriages who take the stage and chronicle their successful journey of matrimonial bliss.
One of the better-attended events is the annual “yesaq mishit” where new comedic talent is encouraged to take the stage. TCC has served as the launching pad for the careers of famed comedians most of whom still call the TCC stage home.
Since its founding, TCC has traveled within the U.S., Canada, and Europe, forming strategic partnerships with seven 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 reside.
In order to meet the other critical felt need or our community, TCC has established a strategic partnership with another volunteer-run organization, Tutoring, and Mentoring Program (TMP), a program established in 2002 to provide free academic tutoring and youth mentoring services in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Renamed Tayitu Cultural and Educational Center (TCEC), TCEC will draw from the combined institutional strength and experience of these two veteran community organizations and become an even more valuable and effective service provider to the community.
Keeping organizations founded by and serving an immigrant community afloat for several years has had and continues to have its challenges. TCEC would like to express heartfelt gratitude to those individuals, businesses and organizations that have encouraged and supported the work that the organizations have done through the years. In particular, TCEC would like to recognize our loyal audiences, volunteers, and our partner organizations wherever they are. But for their active support and encouragement, TCEC wouldn’t have thrived as it has done.