Today, Karamu’s mission is to produce professional theatre, provide arts education, and present programs for all people while honoring the African American experience. We are a place of joyful gathering, where people from different races, religions, and economic backgrounds come together through the arts.
More than 100 years ago, Oberlin College graduates Russell and Rowena Jelliffe opened the Playhouse Settlement (now Karamu House) to offer a place for people of different races, religions, and economic backgrounds to come together through the arts.
Today, our vision of Karamu House is as big as the one that the Jelliffes had in 1915, and we are delivering on our mission of producing professional theatre, provide arts education, and present programs for all people while honoring the African American experience, but also on our vision to enrich our arts community with a nationally-recognized performance theatre, but also—with the tremendous generosity of donors and supporters in our $10.5 million capital campaign—to enrich Cleveland’s Fairfax Neighborhood with:
- fully-renovated performance theatres, including the Arena Theatre and historic Jelliffe Theatre, including new gift shop and box office;
- a public art gallery with rotating art exhibits;
- a full-service bistro with outdoor patio;
- outdoor arena theatre; and,
- new streetscape, among other capital improvements.
In 2018, the Cleveland Plain Dealer recognized that Karamu, ““this once-prestigious arts center is returning to its rightful place on the national stage.” – The Cleveland Plain Dealer
At Karamu House, we are guided not only by our mission and vision, but also by our set of six core values—values that guide the work of our staff, our performance artists, and our volunteers.