The Centre des Métiers d’Art: more than a municipal association

In 45 years of existence, the Centre des Métiers d’Art (CMA) in Pointe-à-Pitre received thousands of people from all walks of life who wanted to discover an artistic and craft activity. Its preparatory class for art schools, created twenty years ago, already received at least 500 students from almost all the towns of Guadeloupe.

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The Centre des Métiers d’Art in Pointe-à-Pitre (CMA) was created in 1973 when the city was being renovated. In addition to social housing, it was also necessary to give to the inhabitants sports and artistic venues (Hall des Sports, Centre des Métiers d’Art, Hall du Bicentenaire etc.). At the beginning, this organization had seventeen workshops. The main objective of the CMA was to attract young people, especially those who were failing at school, and to teach them manual and artistic jobs. Max Coleau, Anicet Brassis (pottery) or Guy Fengarol (visual arts) are among the first teachers who came to give their knowledge to these young people.

The current board of directors of the association that manages the CMA is composed of eleven members (including retired teachers from National Education) and chaired by Moëna Dugamin. Today, the centre has 150 members, ten years ago they were more than 250. “We were the pioneers but, in recent years, there was a decline in the number of our members because other organizations opened their doors in the Department. Almost all municipalities offer artistic activities to their citizens, people prefer local community-based services”, said Martine Céraphe-Ardens, the director of the Centre des Métiers d’Art in Pointe-à-Pitre.

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Martine Céraphe-Ardens, the director of the Centre des Métiers d’Art

500 students in preparatory class

However, the CMA continues to attract young people because it diversified its activities by opening a preparatory class for art schools. This initiative is that of Marguerite “Gadéic” Bielle, a contributor at the centre, who worked on the development of an educational programme that allowed the organization to take this new standing. The main financial backers are the Direction des Affaires Culturelles-DAC (Management of Cultural Affairs) and the city of Pointe-à-Pitre. “For more than twenty years, we have already received at least 500 young people who wanted to start artistic studies after their baccalaureate. It should be noted that when it was created the Centre des Métiers d’Art was for people who lived in Pointe-à-Pitre, for several years it plays a departmental and regional part because the students enrolled in preparatory class come from all over Guadeloupe“, said Martine Céraphe-Ardens. Indeed, statistics show that between 2007 and 2018, 264 students – from 24 towns (out of 32) on the island – went to the preparatory class of the CMA; the towns that sent the most students at the Centre are Les Abymes (41), Le Gosier (28), Baie-Mahault (24), Petit-Bourg (24), Sainte-Anne (21), Goyave (13), Lamentin (13) and Saint-François (11); during the same period, only 17 students were from Pointe-à-Pitre.

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Nathalie Hainault

A financial support from the DAC

“90% of our students get into art schools in France, Martinique or elsewhere. Now, many are artists, craftmen, teachers (…)”, said the director of the CMA. The teaching team consists of Danielle Dubois (artistic practices), Daniel Dabriou (photography), Joëlle Ferly (semiology of the picture), Nathalie Hainault (general knowledge and history of art) and Thierry Bergame (drawing technique), Psylvia Dubois (computer graphics and dress designing), Florence Hatchi-Dorvillius (architecture and perspective) and Mathilde Camoin (volume and design, space).

“The tuition fees in the preparatory class are 2,500 euros thanks to the financial support of the DAC, in France these fees are between 5,000 and 6,000 euros. Last year, after Hurricane Maria, the board of directors enabled a student from the island of St Martin to attend free classes”, said Martine Céraphe-Ardens. The competitive entrance examination took place on June 26. The number of students in the preparatory class is 24; the baccalaureate is required. Because of the high number of applicants, the CMA hopes to open a second preparatory class in the future.

The Centre des Métiers d’Art also welcomes people who want to practice an artistic or craft activity. Several workshops are offered to them : plastic arts, sculpture-modelling, drawing, pottery, comics, sewing, wickerwork or flower arranging.

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Katia Gonzalez

Many artistic and craft activities

From June 4 to 19, a large annual exhibition was organized in the center’s premises to present to the public the creations of the members. The theme, “Planète en Tête”, was related to nature conservation. “The monthly cost to participate in the workshops of the centre is 50 euros but we can adapt our price to some people, especially those receiving social welfare benefits to enable them to discover an activity and became integrated into society”, said the director of the CMA.

The CMA also has a craft production department that is opened throughout the year. Two activities are concerned: pottery with Katia Gonzalez who graduated from an art school in Cuba and who also works in the sculpture-modeling workshop as well as screen printing and engraving on calabash with Léandre Sigiscar. The artifacts are sold during cultural events on the island such as “Jou a Tradisyon”, “Artiflore” etc.

Moreover, as part of the Projet Réussite Éducation (PRE), its trainers, Félie-Line Lucol and Thierry Bergame, are placed at schools (four secondary schools and a high school) in Les Abymes and Pointe-à- Pitre. Recently, it also had the opportunity to train managers of the Creole Beach Hotel with the collaboration of the painter Michelle Chomereau-Lamotte who teach plastic arts to the members.

Finally, it should be noted that in 2001 and 2002, the Centre des Métiers d’Art won the annual plastic arts competition with the theme Le geste en liberté” (The gesture in freedom), organized by UNESCO.