Interview with Darryl Durham, Founder of Anna's Place NOLA

Title

Interview with Darryl Durham, Founder of Anna's Place NOLA

Format

Video Interview

Subject

This is an interview with Darryl Durham, the founder of Anna's Place NOLA. Currently, he serves as the director of arts and community engagement.

Description

Anna’s Place NOLA is an afterschool program that works with children and youth from K-12 to address the inequities that systematically affect them in New Orleans, such as failing schools, violent neighborhoods, insufficient healthcare, low self-esteem, and food scarcity.

Creator

Morgan Banks, Karrington Stewart, and Devin Sloan

Source

My NOLA, My Story via Youtube

Publisher

Mass Communications Department at Xavier University of Louisiana

Date

April 12, 2022

Contributor

Darryl Durham

Rights

My NOLA, My Story

Relation

My NOLA, My Story 2022

Language

English

Type

iMovie, video

Identifier

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dk4-Lyj_5hw

Coverage

Digital Humanities project by Xavier University of Louisiana's Xavier Exponential students, led by Dr. Shearon Roberts.

Original Format

Transcription

Morgan Banks: Ok, so thanks for meeting with us. Did you want to go ahead and introduce yourself?

Darryl Durham: Sure, sure. So my name is Darryl Durham, and I’m the founder of what we used to call Anna’s Arts for Kids, now it’s called Anna’s Place NOLA and so now I am the director of arts and community engagement.

Morgan Banks: So why did you decide to create Anna’s Place?

Darryl Durham: Well when I came to New Orleans, I found out about this church because of the murder board, where they listed the names of people who had died after Hurricane Katrina through violent means and so I wanted to see what that was about. My backstory is I actually am an artist and I’ve been executive director for the Harlem School of the Arts. So, I’d always been interested in developing programming that worked specifically with kids of color. Um, and so when I came to New Orleans immediately identified what the issue was, and saw that the schools were not preparing the kids to deal with, not to become artists necessarily but just have those experiences which lead to a full life. And so the program itself was initially founded because the priests and I wanted to interrupt the cycle of violence and poverty that was going on. Now, this was 2009 when we did that.

Morgan Banks: Ok, so how have you seen Anna’s place grow over the years?

Darryl Durham: It's grown from about eight kids in the original class to as many as a hundred kids during the summer program, and I think that now that we’re developing a new building, which is going to be the community center, we’ll be able to triple the number of kids. I think the best growth though is figuring out what we’re doing. As I said, I am a musician and when we started the program it was a weekend arts program because that was my strong point but then the parents came to us and said: “We see what you’re doing with the kids and they need tutoring.” So we said, “okay, well we’ll start after-school tutoring” I don’t know anything about tutoring. Luckily we were able to get volunteers from Loyola, Tulane, from Xavier. We were able to bring in a volunteer education director who worked with us for the first couple of years. So the real growth of the organization is not, in my mind necessarily, being in the number of kids we’ve served which is powerful, but it’s figuring out what we’re doing and coming up with an actual plan that can be replicated by other organizations that want to do this cause people always say “I wanna make a change but I don’t know how to do it.” Well if I give you… if I show you how we did it you may not have to do it with the arts you might do it with sports or you might do it with something else. There are lots of good, positive youth development organizations out there but I think the formula that we put together is really solid. And that is Academic enrichment which is more than just doing the tutoring but giving experiences in things like stem and stuff like that, arts and culture which is actually teaching kids not only about singing and notes on a keyboard but also taking them to the opera and let them see beauty in the world, health and wellness so we get inside their head at an early age and we teach them about philosophy, we teach them about making decisions, we teach them what to put in their bodies. They live in a great city don’t get me wrong, but you know, we don’t always eat well. This is okay but there's a balance, and Recreation, how to take care of yourself. And then, the most important thing is that we show them that if you pay attention to these things, if you use the correct behaviors, and you develop good patterns and good habits, habits and behaviors if you just do those things then they will influence your academic achievement, influence your cultural awareness, your social development all that kind of stuff. So that’s really what we’re teaching, we’re teaching them what any middle-class parent would do with their child. I mean, I grew up and my mother made us take ballet. I was good though, excuse me! I was the best out of my three brothers but I ended up being a musician cause we also had piano lessons. She knew the importance of doing stuff like that. Our parents are overwhelmed with trying to survive, trying to put food on the table, put clothes on the kid's back, so this stuff wasn’t done for them, or they can’t… your brain can only handle so much. So we step in as sort of a surrogate parent which is what I love about the program which makes it easily replicable because what we’re doing anybody can do.

Morgan Banks: So I know the Treme community has changed over the years how has that affected the program and how have y’all adapted?

Darryl Durham: Well, the original eight used to walk. A couple of them went to church here so their parents would drop them off, literally all these kids lived within a three-block radius of the church. And over the years, there was a point where there were pictures of me with like fifteen kids following us going back and forth from the church to the program. As the community began to gentrify, as the community began to change, we went out and bought a five-passenger van, and then that turned into a seven-passenger van because more and more kids were being displaced to central city, the east… to now where we have a fourteen passenger van. And for us, that continuity of care is what helps the kids overcome the challenges that they’re dealing with. So despite the fact that the community has changed, and you know change is interesting because I remember going to a meeting with the short term rental people, and one woman who represented an organization was saying “ well there used to be nothing but drug dealers and prostitutes…” and she did not walk on the streets she didn’t see the grandmothers sitting on the porches, she didn’t see the families, she didn’t see the community. She just saw what you see in your periphery as you drive through. You see a couple of guys on the corner doing drug deals, but the drug dealers, I mean the user everybody know… But she didn’t see the grandmas, she didn’t see the little kids, she didn’t see the real community so these people had no problems coming in and taking that community away, but we had to create a community and keep that community here, and so the biggest change is that we had to invest in transportation which cost us about $30,000 a year, but we have to, you know we found that if we keep… cause again we only work with the kids 20 hours a week so it takes us about 2 years to develop their trust, and then after we develop their trust, we’re able to take them to wherever they want to go because they believe in themselves… but that takes a certain period of time and so you’ve got to stay engaged so those 20 hours over four days, I guess it’s a lot but it doesn’t seem like a lot.

Morgan Banks: Last question, so what is your hope for Anna’s Place in the future or how do you see it developing into like a bigger organization?

Darryl Durham: Well I mentioned the Mansion, an old creole that we purchased built in 1846, which ironically was the same year the church was established, but we will be able to house a program that can house up to 250 kids. We’ve been offered another facility in the city, not gonna say where, but central city, not gonna say who, which is exciting because these people have looked at our program and said “okay, we see what you guys are doing, we got an abandoned building, can you guys come in and do that program?” But more importantly, what I see, what I hope for the future is that people can say “ I can replicate that, I can do that, I know a church that’ll give us space, I know eight to ten to twelve kids who could use the help.” By the way, we never advertise for this program, the program grew because parents and kids talked to their friends. So we never had to pay for marketing because we never were ever in a situation where we had a shortage of kids, but I think for the future if people can look at what we’re doing if they really wanna make a difference, cause you can’t do it for a couple of days couple of weeks couple of years. We’ve been at this for 12 years like I said we figured it out and made it easy on you, but you still gotta be dedicated to doing it because it’s not easy work and luckily for us we’re now moving to the second generation of kids so I think that once you move to that next generation we have new leadership so once you start doing that you become a mature organization and you begin to exhibit staying power and you begin to realize that mission, procedures that you’ve established are working.
So yeah I think we’re in a position right now where we’re gonna be in great shape for the future so I’m pretty excited.

Morgan Banks: Thank you so much for meeting with us

Darryl Durham: Yeah, thank you guys, really enjoyed it!
Date Added
April 19, 2022
Item Type
Moving Image
Tags
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Citation
Morgan Banks, Karrington Stewart, and Devin Sloan, “Interview with Darryl Durham, Founder of Anna's Place NOLA,” MY NOLA, MY STORY , accessed June 27, 2022, https://xulamasscomm.omeka.net/items/show/215.