Perhaps more than anyone else in the world, the people of Haiti, and the artists of the Jacmel Arts Center know how to survive a crisis. From before the time we were even a country, we have been using the power of our culture to overcome whatever challenge the world throws our way. Even in the last ten years since the devastating earthquake shook our nation, we have faced outbreaks of cholera, zika, chikungunya, and more, in addition to economic and political upheaval that has been unrelenting resulting in widespread insecurity. In these difficult times, though, is when Haitians know to root themselves in the strength of their ancestors and stand firmly upon the history that has brought them this far. Through it all, the culture of Haiti flourishes and expresses the spirit of the people that refuses to be defeated.
Now we have come to face a new crisis with COVID-19. This is a different kind of crisis as it is worldwide and affecting nations across the globe. In other times of crisis Haiti has been able to lean on the support of the international community, but when faced with a threat this comprehensive, we can’t depend on the aid of other nations that are suffering themselves. The country of Haiti is taking extreme measures to protect its population from the spread of the virus, but no one can predict exactly how it will play out as more cases become confirmed. The health system of the country is not prepared to respond to a crisis on the scale of which has been seen elsewhere around the world. This leaves us all in a very uncertain place as we monitor the situation and do what we can to protect ourselves and those within our organization.
At this time, the Jacmel Arts Center has closed to the public and we are not currently holding any classes, rehearsals, or other group gatherings within our space. It has become a time for us to re-evaluate how we present the art and culture from our community to the public. The way that the world consumes art is changing and adapting to everyone’s new normal. Our artists continue to produce new work from their homes as they are able and we will continue to share that work through our online channels including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. We will also take this time to share more images and videos from our archives to give you more ways to experience the culture from wherever you are. The opportunity to sell work and generate support for cultural initiatives online has become essential to our artists as galleries and exhibits are currently closed and performances, workshops, and classes have been cancelled. The only way for them to gain an income at this time to support their families is through online sales or donations. So please review our online offerings and consider whether you are able to contribute in that way during this time. We also remind you that we have a large inventory of artwork available for sale and shipping already in the United States. You can contact us at anytime for more details on purchasing any of the artwork that you see online.
The biggest challenge that our artists will face at this time, as with all Haitians, in addition to the possibility of falling ill, will be the threat of hunger. With the economy on lockdown due to COVID-19, many of our artists will struggle to feed and care for their families. Going out to buy supplies at the market has become impossible and without the opportunity for sales or other income, they are unable to buy the food and provide for their families most basic needs. We will be using any donations to our Emergency Fund to help our artists out with these basic needs during this time. Your contributions are greatly appreciated.
We know that this is a difficult time for everyone all over the world and we are grateful that you continue to keep the artists of Jacmel in your hearts and minds. We will continue to keep all of our friends in our prayers as well as we all confront this global crisis together. We will be here during and after the crisis to keep sharing the art and culture of our community and nation that have brought us through life thus far.