Kingston Creative is a Jamaican arts non-profit dedicated to empowering creative people and the transformation of Downtown Kingston. Recently they partnered with the AFJ to offer a pan-Caribbean emergency COVID-19 relief grant for creatives in the region.
CATAPULT, A Caribbean Arts Grant was implemented by the American Friends of Jamaica Inc. (AFJ) along with support of the AFJ’s grantee Kingston Creative Ltd, an arts NGO based in Jamaica, and a partner of Kingston Creative, Fresh Milk, an arts organization based in Barbados. CATAPULT was designed as a response effort to the challenges faced by the creative sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CATAPULT fund ran from August – December 2020 and expanded Kingston Creative’s reach from Jamaica to the Caribbean. It supported 1,210 Caribbean creatives from 26 countries across the Caribbean, who were working in culture, heritage, music, film, animation, dance, theatre, fashion, cultural tourism, crafts, and visual arts, with an overall focus on the thematic areas of climate justice, human rights, gender, and culture. The project provided interventions through six strands which allowed for artists, cultural practitioners, and creative entrepreneurs to better navigate a digital environment, allowing for greater collaboration using online resources to connect with diverse audiences globally during the pandemic.
One of the strands, the CATAPULT Stay Home Artist Residency provided 24 Caribbean artists with a $3,000 USD stipend, allowing them to safely remain in their studios and workshops, and to produce work over a two-month period. Through the artists’ bi-monthly blog posts, they were able to not only share their work but also reflect on the process and practice, benefiting them and the wider public. You can read these blog posts here.
This partnership has led to the creation of Caribbean cultural content in diverse languages, enabled Caribbean artists to connect with a global audience and increased the capacity of Caribbean creatives by earning beyond their borders. Additionally, through direct financial support, this project has increased the visibility of artists, resulting in the maintenance and expansion of their practices and networks.
Recently while in Kingston, the AFJ Executive Director, Caron Chung, visited the Kingston Creative Water Lane murals in the new Downtown Kingston Art District. The street art was developed by some of the artists who were awardees under the Catapult Arts Grant.