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Wilmington Rock Lot plans a season of programming

Creative District Wilmington’s “Rock Lot” kicked off its first full season of programming last night with dancing monks and a drum circle.

The West Center City pocket park was filled with music by the visiting Dancing Monks of Assam, a circle of amateur drummers and a crowd of jubilant onlookers.

It was the first weekly drum circle at the Rock Lot this spring, and the start of Wilmington Renaissance Corporation’s first full season of programming there.

Other free and family-friendly programming at the Rock Lot this summer will include Jazz Nights, Capoeira performances, and a lending library of children’s books.

The drum circle, which will meet at the Rock Lot every Tuesday evening through the summer, started a few years ago at the Episcopal Church of Sts. Andrew and Matthew (SsAM). It came to the Rock Lot at the end of last summer.

Jonathan Whitney leads the circle at SsAM. He says the partnership between Wilmington Renaissance Corporation and the church works because both organizations are community-focused.

“It’s a chance for SsAM to be outside of our walls in the community. And it’s a chance for the Rock Lot to have programming.”

Whitney says participants in the drum circle range from homeless drummers to retired doctors. The church focuses on what he calls “intentional diversity,” and the drum circle reflects this.

Ann Tate is a longtime member of SsAM and participant in the drum circle. She says the circle feels like a family, and is open to anyone.

“This is just going to the community and saying, we’re here, we want you to be a part of it, and hope you will feel comfortable enough to just come,” she said.

Tate was a member of St. Matthew’s, a predominantly Black church, before it merged with predominantly white St. Andrews to form SsAM.

Wilmington Renaissance Corporation says they hope to bridge divides and bring people together.

“All the programming is really around bringing the community together and highlighting what a wonderful place it is to live in West Center City,” said  Laura Semmelroth, Creative District strategist for the Wilmington Renaissance Corporation.

Martín Martínez, Public Relations Coordinator at the Renaissance Corporation, says the company tries to avoid contributing to gentrification.

“We’re working with a lot of different partners in the community,” he said. “To kind of make sure that the growth that’s going on in Wilmington right now is done in a way that’s respectful to the people who live in the neighborhoods where it’s happening. Part of that lends itself to creating places for those communities to meet and party together and celebrate together.”

He says the Rock Lot hopes to be just such a place.

Creative District Wilmington will also host a block party on May 12 to unveil portraits of West Center City families in a new public art collaboration with Fouryouth Productions.

The Dancing Monks of Assam were hosted in Delaware by the Delaware Art Museum, the Light Up the Queen Foundation and the Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education. 

Delaware Public Media' s arts coverage is made possible, in part, by support from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.