For the second time, Kingston Creative, American Friends of Jamaica and Open Society Foundations have partnered to provide financial assistance to Caribbean artists. As a result, more than half a million U.S. dollars was donated to the arts community by Open Society Foundations as part of the CATAPULT arts grant to combat the effects of Covid-19 in the Caribbean.
“This year, by offering relief grants to 300 creatives of $500 USD each, the grant has helped to complete arts projects, purchase equipment and cover living expenses for artists in dire straits due to the impact of the pandemic”, informs the association Creative Kingston.
436 creatives from 23 Caribbean countries applied and the 7 members of the jury – composed of Ana Maria Hernandez (Aruba), Holly Byone (St. Vincent & the Grenadines), Juan Francisco Pardo (Aruba), Natalie Urquhart (Cayman Islands), Nicholas Laughlin (Trinidad & Tobago), Sara Shabaka (Jamaica) and Simone Harris (Jamaica) – selected 300 winners.
All 436 grant applicants will also be added to the Caribbean Creative Network, a publicly accessible artist directory developed by Kingston Creative to increase visibility, market access and earnings for Caribbean artists. The online database will serve as a resource that the public can use to find, hire and easily partner with creatives for both international and local projects.
“Many artists expressed that the grant not only helped them financially, but also served as a symbol of validation for their artistic practice. “As professional artists we face a lot of unique challenges, chief among them is not being taken seriously.” Jamaican artist, Īṣā Orí expressed, “ Nonetheless, I am equally comforted and motivated to know that there are organisations like the American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ) and Catapult, who not just believe in us, but are also willing to help us”, the organizers reported.
“The grant also helped artists to find working and studio space to produce their art. “Since I received the grant I was able to find my own place where I can now work on my projects in a more focused way. I’m now writing again and also working on my next show” said El Bacalao, a creative from the Dominican Republic”, they continued.
The partners of the CATAPULT programme are therefore satisfied with the result of the grant’s second iteration.
“The CATAPULT partnership has been focussed on both the immediate needs of artists and building opportunities for the future. It is a shared vision of impact and a commitment to the future of the creative community”, said Wendy Hart, President of the American Friends of Jamaica.
“We are very thankful that with the help of our international partners we were able to assist creatives in this way for a second year (…) We are especially excited about how impactful the Caribbean Creative Network will be as it is part of a long term strategy to help creatives across the Caribbean to network and earn more income”, said Khadijah Chang, Project Manager for the CATAPULT Arts Grant.
As for Auro Fraser, Open Society Foundations’ Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean, he said :
“Open Society Foundations is privileged to support this second edition of the CATAPULT initiative. In times of COVID, Caribbean artists, their families and their work continue to be impacted in multiple ways, having a detrimental effect on the whole of our societies. We look forward to continuing to support artists and artists’ organisations in the region”.