Recently there were some tweets exchanged between Che “Rhymefest” Smith and Kim Kardashian West. The local charity organization Donda’s House was the main focus of the discussion. As a result of this discussion and Kanye West’s recent comments in the media, the organization has decided to change its name to Art of Culture. In December 2011 Che “Rhymefest” Smith, his wife Donnie Smith, and Kanye West founded Donda’s House Inc. to honor the life and legacy of Kanye’s late mother, Dr. Donda West, by supporting Chicago youth in the arts.
According to a recent statement from Art of Culture, “Over the last few months, due to Mr. West’s controversial public political statements, the organization received communications of concern from sponsors, foundations and supporters. Students, alumni, volunteers and staff of the group met Saturday to discuss recent developments and the future of the organization. The group decided that the organization will maintain its mission, but will have a new name both to avoid confusion and honor the stated wishes of the West family. Going forward Donda’s House will be known as Art of Culture, Inc. (http://artofculture.org/).”
The Executive Director of Art of Culture, Donnie Smith, says, “We are committed to continuing to serve young creatives, who are extremely talented but marginalized, those for which income is a barrier. We will continue to provide free art classes and workshops, curate events and provide access to the arts and artistic experiences.”
When asked how they arrived at the new name of the organization, “The name was selected by our community of students, volunteers and staff, because the work that we do is about empowering the community,” says Donnie Smith.
Currently the organization’s headquarters is at Dyett High School for the Arts. Smith states, “The school is a beautiful facility that has a Black Box Theater, state-of-the art dance studios and more importantly—high school students who are interested in pursuing careers in the arts. We did purchase Kanye’s childhood home two years ago to convert it into Litehouse, a community art center, recording studio and satellite programming location. We are still sorting through what will become of the space, but we are very much committed to developing Litehouse. We have a short list of properties we are researching and encourage those who are interested in that work to reach out to us.”
Donda’s House has worked directly with at least 500 students and has impacted more than 8,000 students through its outreach programs. Art of Culture plans to continue all of the same great work within the community.
In the immediate future, Art of Culture has a summer program:
Tuesdays – Thursdays at Dyett High School from 12 – 2 pm.
Tuesdays will focus on creative writing; Wednesdays will focus on podcasting and media; Thursdays will be a drop-in center where young artists can come in to work on any of their creative projects.
Online donations can be made via the website: ArtofCulture.org. Or checks may be made out to Donda’s House Inc. (until the name is transferred with the IRS & the State of Illinois) and sent to: Dyett High School, ATTN: Art of Culture, Inc., 555 E. 51st Street, Chicago, IL 60615