SOS for SAJ, Save the Jacmel Arts Center

IMG_E4813A Letter from the Director:

Hello Friends of the Jacmel Arts Center,

Those of you who have had the chance to visit the Jacmel Arts Center over this last year or sometime in the past have witnessed first-hand just what an iconic institution it is for the arts community of Jacmel. Even though we have been working hard over the last year to create a new identity for ourselves to reflect a more inclusive energy and more comprehensive programming, the space that the Arts Center operates out of has been serving the arts community of this region for 15 years. It has become known as the number one destination to view professional quality visual art of diverse styles as well as the most respected arts school in the region where young artists can come learn from the professionals and develop their own unique artistic voices. With our recent expansion of programming focused on the musical and theatrical arts including our brand new performance space in the backyard, we are now, more than ever, seen as an essential part of the identity of this city as the artistic capitol of Haiti. Over the last year we have grown our membership to over 100 professional artists and more than 70 art students in addition to the numerous dance, music, and theater groups that use our space for rehearsals and performance. There is no other place like SAJ in Jacmel that is able to offer support to such a wide array of talented creative individuals and groups. And we hope to be able to continue to offer our services to the artists long into the future. We are able to see what the future looks like through the deep well of potential in our students and young artists, and we want to continue to be a part of it!

IMG_4906It’s not easy though, and today we are asking for your help to keep our center alive. The Jacmel Arts Center is in danger of closing down because we are unable to pay the rent necessary for the building that we are in. The historic Boucard & Co building was built in the early 1800’s as a sorting and distribution center for a huge coffee business that profited from the use of the port located right out back of the building. The coffee business closed down during the tumultuous political times of the 1970’s and remained unused until it was established as an arts center under the name FOSAJ in 2003. Ever since then it has been dedicated as a space for use by the artists of the community. The artists under the direction of FOSAJ were in the process of purchasing the building in 2010 right at the time that the fateful earthquake struck on January 12th of that year. As the quake took the life of the director at the time, Flo McGarrell, and also greatly damaged the building, the purchase was never completed, leaving the future of the artists uncertain. Now with our new leadership team and organizational structure, we have re-entered into an agreement with the building owners to begin renting the building again so that it may continue to be used for the artists. We know that there are many other businesses in the area that would love to have the location and would be ready to pay much more than we are able to. The owners have generously allowed us to stay in the building for this past year while we developed our new structure and built a strategy for the future, without requiring rent from us. But now it has been a year and if we are not able to pay, we will be evicted so that the space could be used by someone else. We need to raise $1200 USD per month for the rent but we are far from being able to pay it based on our sales profits. Even on our best months this past year, we were lucky to bring in $400-$500 in profits, and most months were much less than that. We have started submitting some grant proposals and planning larger fundraisers for the future, but those do not bring in immediate funds to help cover the urgent need of paying rent for this month and the next.

IMG_E4228So we are sending out this urgent SOS for SAJ, help save the Jacmel Arts Center today! Please help us raise the money that we need to pay the rent for the next couple of months until our other fundraising efforts start to produce results. Donations of any amount are appreciated! You can make a donation today through our Paypal link:

Thank you so much for your support of the arts of Jacmel! As long as we are still here, we’re looking forward to an exciting calendar full of new and innovative arts events! Next time you’re in Jacmel, whether it’s during Carnival, or anytime throughout the year, make sure to stop by and see what new art we have on exhibit and what new events we have scheduled that you can participate in.

Until then, wishing you all a liberated and creative 2018!


Lee Rainboth

Executive Director

Jacmel Arts Center SAJ

2017 by Numbers

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