The CATAPULT Caribbean Covid-19 Relief Arts Grant is the second year of a partnership between Kingston Creative, the American Friends of Jamaica and the Open Society Foundations that has delivered over half a million US dollars in support to the arts community. This year, by offering relief grants to 300 creatives of $500 USD each, the grant has helped to complete arts projects, purchase equipment and cover living expenses for artists in dire straits due to the impact of the pandemic.
436 creatives applied from 23 countries across the Caribbean and these were narrowed down to 300 recipients by a panel of jurors; 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).
All 436 grant applicants will also be added to the Caribbean Creative Network, a publicly accessible artist directory developed by Kingston Creative to increase visibility, market access and earnings for artists across the Caribbean. The online database will serve as a resource that the public can use to find, hire and easily partner with creatives for both international and local projects.
Many artists expressed that the grant not only helped them financially, but also 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.” Jamaican artist, Īṣā Orí expressed, “ 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 to find working and studio space 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 partners of the CATAPULT programme are also satisfied with the outcome of the grant’s second iteration.
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, Open Society Foundations’ Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean.
Kingston Creative is investing in “People and Place”; developing strong Jamaican creative entrepreneurs and building a vibrant Art District in Downtown Kingston.