What is Ocracoke Alive?
Ocracoke Alive, Inc. is a 501(c) 3 non-profit with an interesting mission statement: “to enrich the Ocracoke Island community by encouraging and sponsoring cultural, artistic, educational, and environmental activities including the production of plays, musicals, musical events, exhibits, schools, workshops, and festivals.”  So, what exactly do we do?
 
Where is Ocracoke Island?
Ocracoke is a remote island 23 miles off the coast of North Carolina along the southern end of the Outer Banks. Most of the 16 mile long island is part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, some of the most beautiful beaches that you will find anywhere.  Ocracoke village is at the southern end of the island and is home to around 1000 year-round residents.

Ocracoke was first inhabited in the mid 1700s, by local pilots who were hired by incoming ships to guide their cargos to the mainland of North Carolina. Blackbeard spent a little time on Ocracoke (pre-settlement), and was killed in 1718 right off-shore in a battle with a small force under the command of Lt. Maynard. Today, tourism accounts for most of the local economy.
 
Ocracoke Alive’s Origins
In 1974, island resident Julie Howard’s penned the musical “A Tale of Blackbeard.” With increasing interest in community theater, organizers created the non-profit, Ocracoke Players.  Over the next twenty year, the Players organized events and shows, providing live entertainment for residents and visitors. By the mid 1990s, productions had slowed and the Ocracoke Players went in to dormancy.

In 2000, Gary Mitchell and David Tweedie of Ocracoke’s nationally touring Molasses Creek band, began the Ocrafolk Festival under the auspice of the nonprofit Ocracoke Preservation Society.  By 2010, the Ocrafolk Festival (and additional community programming) had grown to such a size, that the organizers decided to bring the Ocracoke Players out of dormancy and revive its cultural arts mission under the new name, Ocracoke Alive.  
 
Why Support Ocracoke Alive?
Ocracoke Island’s isolation has always fostered a proud sense of independence, largely out of necessity.  The island’s remoteness means that many of the governmental and community resources expected in other parts of the world are reduced or absent.  Although Ocracoke features a talented population of resident artisans and musicians, there is great need for strengthening student cultural arts programming as well as community events for residents and visitors.

Ocracoke Alive relies largely upon individual donations for growing our mission. Many of these funds come from our “extended family” . . . non-residents, who have fallen in love with the island and wish to lend their support. This could be you!
 
The Present
Festivals - Ocracoke Alive currently sponsors two festivals, the Ocrafolk Music and Storytelling Festival during the first full weekend of June, and the Festival Latino de Ocracoke during the second weekend of November. Through art, dance, food, music, storytelling, and workshops these festivals bring together people if celebration of our different ethnicities, cultures, talents and passions.
 
Arts Partnership - When Hyde County School System could not longer provide an art teacher for the island school in 2014, the Ocracoke Alive stepped in with the Arts Partnership, created to connect every grade level with a series of local and visiting artists throughout the spring semester. Fortunately, the art teacher position was reinstated following year, but the partnership has continued to provide diverse art education to students and residents.
 
Skipjack Wilma Lee - When Mr. and Mrs. Herb Carden donated the Skipjack Wilma Lee to Ocracoke Alive in 2012, there was a lot of work to be done both on the boat and potential programming. Sunset cruises can be taken on the Wilma Lee throughout the summer season, but it is also the location of performances, talks, and a variety of classes. Programming is currently being developed to include the island and many local businesses and non-profits, to encourage educators and education facilities to view Ocracoke as a destination rather than an interesting point through which to pass.
 
Deepwater Theater Since 2015, Deepwater Theater has served as the multipurpose home for all of Ocracoke Alive’s programming. It is a classroom space as well as a performance space for the many shows, original productions and concerts produced throughout the year. Weekly shows run from June through September. Individuals and organizations rent Deepwater for gatherings, meetings, celebrations and classes, and it also serves as a shop for the merchandise of Ocracoke Alive’s many different projects.
 
The Future
With new staff and board members joining the team, Ocracoke Alive is committed to enhancing current programming, reviving select productions (such as “A Tale of Blackbeard” in 2018 and the Ocrafolk School), and more importantly facilitating the dreams of residents and visitors to bring them to reality. Community bands and choirs, village gardens and grow boxes, heritage programs, new shows and performances…all are currently on the drawing board. If you have an idea, please share it with us!
 
The residents of Ocracoke are as diverse in ethnicity and culture as they are in talent. A common belief runs through the community, however, that by participating in festivals, classes, shows, and additional programming, we learn and grow as a community. We take pride in sharing our unique talents, heritage and geography, and we become more empathetic towards our neighbors and visitors.
 
Join us is our mission!


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