A New Dream Building


In the past two years our programming and popularity has been growing. We have been leveraging the talent of local Haitians to create and teach classes. This has helped us put science, technology and art together to create unique courses unavailable in Jacmel.

With more students registering for classes than ever before, we are running out of space. Other people and organizations are excited to partner with us because of this success as well. New partnerships will increase the variety of programming we can offer the Jacmel community, but again we just don’t have the space. Each building we have had in the past were originally meant to be residential homes with large rooms. The room sizes limit the number of students we can enroll. We currently only have 3 teaching spaces. Each space is booked with classes. This is preventing us from developing advanced classes.

We have found a new unique building in the center of town that will allow us to grow into a school. It is a school built in the 1950’s and ran until the earthquake of 2010. It has a fair bit of renovation needs and some earthquake damage. So it has a large price tag on it for renovations to make it a functioning building. If we succeed in negotiating a fair rent and find funding to repair the building, we will be able to stabilize our facilities for sewing and computer labs. It has double the teaching spaces and we will be able to offer advanced classes. We will also have the room to start a solar academy and coding bootcamp, which are in development now with our partners. The classroom sizes are bigger and we will be able to enroll 20 to 25 students per class in comparison to the 15 student limit we have now. This will increase our enrollment from 180 to 480 students! Our partners also have more equipment donations for us, such as a full PC laptop lab and professional sewing lab.

This building is critical to our development as an alternative educational resource for the Jacmel community. We will need to raise a minimum of $50,000 to secure and restore the building. This is more than we have ever raised before. But we have already raised half that money and we need your help to raise the other half. It is a tall order but we are determined to reach our goal and make a dream come true. Click here to download a description of the project LDS Promo

Gas Prices Rising, Time for Solar

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On May 15th, the subsidies that keep gas prices lower will be stopped. This is in response to a request from the World Bank. The Haiti government will also raise prices on electricity. All of these changes are meant to decrease the deficit of Haitian national budget. There are so many issues in this development that we would have to refer to a scholar that studies the subject. On the ground, in the cities, neighborhoods and rural towns, this affects everyone’s life and ability to achieve success.

As we said in our previous post, consistency of electrical infrastructure is poor. We receive only 8 hours of energy every other day. That means we either have inverters and batteries, run a generator or go without electricity. Many businesses, personal homes and organizations rely on a generator for their daily lives. In the past when our invertor system has broken down, JE used our stinky and loud generator everyday. It costs us $15 dollars to run our generator for two days, at 6 hours per day. That means we have paid, $45 every week to power our organization and run classes. We pay our faculty $50 a month per class. So we could use that money to pay four faculty instead of buying gas. $45 may not sound like much but this is not America and the average daily wage is $2.50. Even the growing middle class will suffer.

Help us create sustainable infrastructure in Jacmel. We can’t take care of all of Haiti or even all of Jacmel but we can make a big difference for a lot of people in Jacmel. Cause when gas prices go up, most all prices go up!

That Class was Electric!

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After five weeks of coding theory and practice the youth in Robo Klub got to have some real fun last Saturday! Lionel Pierre, the HTML teacher, brought in some electronic sound equipment. So the morning was filled with laughter and music. It was a magical space to be in. In the afternoon we learned about electricity and the fundamentals of a circuit. Then we soldered together a simple circuit with a watch battery, 330 Ohm resistor, led light and a vibration motor.

It took a minute for everyone to understand that the negative does not come out of the other side of your on/off toggle switch. And it was great to see everyone’s face as soon as they had a working circuit. I could hear the face before I saw it, because it was always proceeded by a very enthusiastic, “SUE SUE SUE!”

Saturday is one of my favorite days at JE! -Sue Frame, Director

Science in the Arts?!

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Science and art have too long been separated. Even the word scientist was inspired by the word artist. Many countries with greater resources than Haiti have realised this and Universities are now partnering the two subjects. In 2015 over 25 University presidents penned letters to Obama stating the importance of combining science and the arts. It just makes sense. Both are creative fields with innovators looking at new ways of thinking and making. With the advent of the 3D printer and realised machines, artists have a direct connection to creating with digital technology. Now it is important to find the relevancy of these mediums and what they have to offer the world of art. Art is also a great way for students to explore and understand new technologies.

So why should JE’s students deserve any less than what first world students are getting? JE is has most of the resources to create this opportunity and with a little help from our new partners, HTEC, we have distributed applications at six local schools. The Robo Klub is the most competitive program we have offered. Out of 150 applications distributed we will choose only 12 students to participate in the program! The Klub will start October 7th and continue for three months. The students will be learning English, computer competency, coding with Scratch and principles of movement. In January the students will go to Port au Prince for a national competition and conference!

This is just the beginning! We have a lot more arts/tech classes in development. If you would like to support the students and teachers click the donation button above.

New Partnerships!

It has been an exciting few months. We are getting ready for a new session of classes and with a couple new partnerships we are able to offer a broader range of classes for our students. We have created two new partnerships that we are very happy to announce.

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Haiti Dansco is a local danse school that focuses on Afro-Haitian culture and uses a wide variety of styles to share this culture with the world. We provide English classes for their students, which opens up more opportunity for the students to travel and share their vision. They provide our students with dance classes. The current class is contemporary African dance. We chose this partnership not only only our common goals but also because of the standards their students uphold. They match the forward thinking approach our students have as well.

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HTEC Group is a local tech club in Jacmel. Their goal is to develop digital skill sets to open a new job market in Haiti. We are working together to offer classes in basic computer skills, learning programs, and next year we will open programming courses for HTML. If you are interested in joining us in this digital journey private message us! We have classes for youth and adults.

What’s the Difference between a Community Center and an Arts Academy?

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For the past 7 years, Jakmel Ekspresyon has been a Community Arts Center. It has been a space for artists to glean new skills or practice old ones through classes. It has provided resources for graduates so they can create their own job. The building and equipment has been used by many local organizations to hold classes, have meetings, and or create activities for the larger community of Jacmel. As the Center has grown our network of local volunteers has grown, so has our list of classes. The artists are gaining more skills based experience. The community of students, faculty and administration are driven forward-thinking intellectuals and each of them is always seeking more knowledge.


Our classes have traditionally included skills, techniques and professional development. What the Center lacks is critical thinking classes and practices. A community center provides resources for a community and its activities. A school teaches students how to approach critical thinking and has a curriculum to achieve that pathway. The academic classes that the community is asking for will make Jakmel Ekspresyon a local arts academy. Jakmel Ekspresyon is advancing two initiatives to meet our new goal. First, we are currently seeking volunteers to expand the options for art history, philosophy and critical theory. Second, over the next year we will be developing themes for the classes to tackle issues such as health, discrimination and environmental justice. Some of these classes will include STEM/STEAM education practices such as learning code programming or testing for water pollution.

 

It is now our intention to develop this humble little art center into an arts academy to educate young artists and help to nurture and inspire the new generation of artists in Jacmel, Haiti. You can be involved in the next step of our journey! Start a conversation with us, introduce us to people we should know and we always take in-kind and fiscal donations. Email us at jakmelekspresyon@gmail.com or visit our donate page to see our wish list.

A Community in Action

JE has created a new steering committee made up of volunteer staff, professors and students. Bathole Gary, Nadia Amie, Estella Valsaint, Alix “Rigole” Olivier, and Youdly Jules.  Each person on the committee has a unique motivation and set of talents that is helping us move forward. With a diverse set of interests we are able to promote environmental justice, non-discrimination and more. The committee has prioritized a couple of objectives for the Art Center. They have agreed that Health education is crucial to our guiding principles and that we should pursue more opportunities for health classes. Creating a new set of guideline and rules before the next session of classes. Areas like the tool check out room needs a consistent system to work properly. The committee and staff all agree that Jakmel Ekspresyon should move to an arts academy model. So we are searching for volunteers to help us continue and build our philosophy and art history classes. These amazing young adults are pushing us forward and it feels like community.

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Bathole Gary is a young entrepreneur, painter and sculptor. His goal is to have a school where he can learn new skills for his art. His main area of focus would be classical figurative sculpture. Bathole has also been one of our biggest supporters of volunteerism within the community.

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Nadia Bien-Aime is a dedicated JE student. Nadia is currently in the sewing program, One Stitch At a Time. She speaks for the youth and their perceptions of Jakmel Ekspresyons. Nadia helps us to develop a list of awarenesses for the students. Before the next session of classes we will have an all members meeting to express those ideas to the student body.

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Estella Valsaint teaches voice and acting for film classes at JE. She is a film director and has multiple projects she is pushing forward now. They include themes such as violence against women and youth issues. Estella uses her documentaries and fiction as an educational tool for healthier lifestyles.

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Youdly Jules is a film director and photographer. He is most interested in documenting environmental justice issues such as clean water. Youdly volunteers with the Administration to help us build and implement a tracking system for inventory and daily office tasks.  

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Alix “Rigole” Olivier is a stage actor and poet. He has been coming to JE since 2011. Rigole is a natural community builder and works with many of the arts organizations in Jacmel that JE now has partnerships with. He adds to the committees a long term growth perspective as he has experienced JE in its many stages since the beginning.

Jakmel Ekspresyon is indebted to the hardwork of these young forward thinking adults who believe in a better future for Jacmel. Thank you!


An Evening with Tonerrr and JE

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Tonerrr theater group and the students of Jakmel Ekspresyon have created a multi media performance, Antigòn. This play/performance will include live performative painting and theater together. It focuses on the history and culture of Haiti. So many of the students from design to sewing to painting and drawing have worked with Tonerrr to make this show happen. Tonerrr is the resident theater group at Jakmel Ekspresyon. Last year a couple of our students joined a workshop led by Bread and Puppet artists and the interdisciplinary nature of Antigòn is influenced by that workshop.

New Library!

With the help and donations from the McGarrell family and friends we have built our first library. This has been a dream for the art center for years. The donations helped us build beautiful cabinets and ship in an arts library. This is HUGE! Before the library the faculty had to describe the different genres of painting, drawing, sculpture and photography. Maybe they would make a quick sketch to visually describe Expressionism to students. But how do you make a thumb nail sketch to describe a master piece. The lack of a library was a deficit to the learning process of our students. Now we have a small library and room to grow! Most of our visual library is in English. Our next step is to solicit donations of french language books. We need critical theory, arts history, philosophy and poetry. While our library grows we also have plans to create a small reading room where the students can sit and enjoy the knowledge. We dedicate this library to the late Ann McGarrell and her continued influence in our efforts through the library.

Happy Holidays!

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Happy Holidays from all of us at Jakmel Ekspresyon

It has been a year full of achievement. There are more students than ever learning to be creative social innovators. We have over 100 students now! Out of the many successes we want to share two great achievements this year and it is all about the students. When the Center took a break from classes for a month, the students were asked to come together and have a discussion about what practice means to their work, their studies and their life. As a result the students decided to create a committee to organize student clubs. This committee was elected by the students and they decided that each committee member would serve for a year. Since, they have organized outings, events and weekly meetings for a drawing club. This student involvement has an active impact on how the students think of the Center. We have always encouraged these young adults to take ownership in their community and this committee has truly empowered them to take action. We couldn’t be prouder of them and their leadership.

The second awesome achievement is the student’s courage to promote the Center as a space of non-discrimination. They have pride in what we stand for. Most people in Haiti are timid of saying the word non-discrimination. The word is used to describe people who face violence and many don’t want to be associated with those people, for fear of that violence. Many times people have asked us if we have been the victim of aggression and violence because of our mission. We are amazed to say that we have never been threatened and in fact we have developed an extremely positive atmosphere. Visitors love the energy of the space and the students when they come to visit. We are blessed to have such a peaceful space when others are not as fortunate.

Now we have a unique opportunity to help you help us. A donor has offers to match up to $3,250 of total donations received in December and January. This equals half of our rent! We know equality is as important to you as it is to us. Your donation will support the students as they make a change in their local culture so that one day all Haitians may be viewed as equal despite their differences. Click here to make a tax deductible donation today.



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