Spotlight on Haiti Cultural Exchange (HCX)
To celebrate the release of Haiti Noir 2: The Classics, edited by Edwidge Danticat, Akashic will be spotlighting Haitian organizations on our website. Today, we’re pleased to feature Haiti Cultural Exchange, a nonprofit organization that develops, presents, and promotes the cultural expressions of Haitian people. Haiti Cultural Exchange cosponsored our recent Haiti Noir 2 event at the Brooklyn Public Library, and we invited them to tell us more about their organization. From Executive Director Régine Roumain:
Since 2009, Haiti Cultural Exchange (HCX) has been working to develop, present and promote the artistic expression of Haitian people, and provide a platform for emerging, mid-career, and established artists to create, reflect, and exchange. Over the past four years, HCX has worked with wide-ranging partners including the Brooklyn Museum, El Museo del Barrio, MoCADA, the New York Historical Society, and others to present Haitian culture in a positive and engaging manner, bringing the work of over 150 Haitian and Haitian-American artists to diverse audiences of over 30,000 people. Our broad range of programs serve low-income and underserved youth; provide Haitian artists with unique opportunities to present their work; offer the Diaspora avenues to connect with their culture; and expose diverse audiences to Haitian arts, culture, history, and socio-political issues. In November 2012, HCX moved into our first space at FiveMyles Gallery in Crown Heights, a neighborhood with a large Haitian and wider Caribbean population. This space and resource-sharing initiative symbolizes the growth of our organization and our continued efforts to stay connected with the communities we serve.
In rural communities in Haiti, farmers come together to help their neighbors plant their fields in a traditional farming cooperative effort called a Konbit, collaborating together to ensure the largest possible harvest for all community members. Just as the Haitian Konbit brings people together for the common cause of planting the land, HCX seeks to bring people, ideas, and communities together to grow their understanding and engagement with Haitian culture.
Through entertaining and informative programming, HCX is working to increase access to accurate representations of Haitian culture through the presentation of multi-disciplinary arts and education programs. These programs serve as avenues for the community to increase access to diverse and high quality programming, particularly in new immigrant and Haitian Diaspora communities; build pride and shared cultural knowledge among underserved immigrant communities; expose New York City audiences to both traditional and contemporary work by Haitian and Haitian Diaspora artists; and provide opportunities for Haitian and Haitian Diaspora artists, especially those who are emerging, to share their work and build new audiences.
Our programs include:
- An n’ Pale (“Let’s talk” in Haitian Creole): Our monthly forum that provides audiences with vital opportunities to engage with artists, writers, and scholars of Haitian descent and/or focused on Haitian subject matters in an intimate café setting. To date, we have held twenty An n’ Pale forums featuring artists such as traditional Haitian dancer Nadia Dieudonne, a young Haitian-American choreographer working to share her knowledge of the dance with the youth of the next generation; Marc Baptiste, an internationally acclaimed fashion photographer who has been turning his lens towards issues on the ground in Haiti; and Didier Williams, a visual artist using his experience in the US to explore shifting ideas of home. The intimate structure combined with its frequency has made An n’ Pale our most prominent signature program, attracting anywhere from 50-200 people per forum.
- Haiti Film Fest: This biennial festival showcases the films of Haitian filmmakers, in addition to films from and about Haiti. Inaugurated in 2011, the festivals have presented filmmakers from around the world. Selections ranged from award-winning films featured during the Tribeca Film Festival to cutting-edge documentaries on artists creating in exile and the human rights conditions of Haiti’s orphans. The festival is intended to amplify our voices through the power of the moving image and provide a platform for these films to be seen. Providing (when possible) subtitled and dubbed versions has allowed us to reach English, French, and Creole-speaking New York audiences, helping us to reach over 1,200 people during the 2013 festival.
- Youth Programming: HCX works with the Bilingual Center at PS 189 in East New York to provide Ti Atis, an afterschool program that gives students the opportunity to explore Haitian art and culture with Haitian teaching artists. Since 2010, Ti Atis has served over 300 children at PS 189 working in a variety of mediums to increase students’ artistic skill and social consciousness. In past sessions, we worked with the students to conceptualize and construct two murals spearheaded by Haitian artists Patrick Icart-Pierre, a DOE educator, and Groundswell muralist and youth advocate, Jules Joseph. Krik? Krak! is storytelling and folksong program that activates the power of oral tradition in the Haitian community through the talents of musicians, professional storytellers, and performance artists. This program provides an accessible method of bringing subsequent generations of Haitian Diaspora in contact with cultural tradition. Having reached over 350 individuals through this youth program, HCX works with schools and organizations to present the Krak? Krak! program to youth audiences inside and outside of the Haitian community. Our youth programming aims to instill the importance of cultural heritage, the power of collaborative thinking, and the significance of the arts in our daily lives.
- Mizik Ayiti! Summer Concert Series: This seasonal music program is designed to bring a nuanced representation of Haitian music to the forefront of summer programming in NYC. Each month, HCX hosts a performance by a musical artist/band, often presenting emerging talent. Concerts feature one to two performances each; the final concert of the series, called Pwezi ak Mizik Anba Tonèl (“Poetry and Music under the Arbor” in Haitian Creole), incorporates poetry into the program and offers an engaging platform for traditional and contemporary music and poetry.
Visit our website at www.haiticulturalx.org to see more about some of our past programs, including Ti Atis afterschool workshops at PS 189; Fly a Haitian Kite workshop at PS 189; and about Salon d’Haïti, a Brooklyn Book Festival Bookend event. You can also find more information about upcoming HCX programs here.
Posted: Jan 21, 2014
Featured: Music/Popular Culture/Art
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