The CATAPULT Caribbean Covid-19 Relief Arts Grant is in its second year. It was made possible through a partnership between Kingston Creative, the American Friends of Jamaica and the Open Society Foundations. Additionally, the project delivered over half a million US dollars supporting the arts community. This year, 300 creatives received USD 500 each to complete art projects. They also used the grant to purchase equipment. It was also used to cover living expenses for artists in dire straits due to the impact of the pandemic.
Four hundred thirty-six creatives applied from 23 countries across the Caribbean. A panel of jurors narrowed the list down to 300 recipients. The panel included 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).
Caribbean Creative Network added all 436 grant applicants to the database. The publicly accessible artist directory developed by Kingston Creative increases visibility, market access and earnings for artists across the Caribbean. The online database will serve as a resource. The public can find, hire, and partner with creatives for international and local projects.
Many artists expressed that the grant helped them financially and 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.” expressed Jamaican artist Īṣā Orí. “ 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 grant also helped artists find working and studio spaces 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.
The outcome of the grant’s second iteration satisfied the partners of the CATAPULT programme.
Wendy Hart, President of the American Friends of Jamaica, said, “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”.
“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,” said Khadijah Chang, Project Manager for the CATAPULT Arts Grant, “ 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”.
“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.” said Auro Fraser. Auro Fraser is the Open Society Foundations’ Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean.