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Birthing a Caribbean arts journal
I really do believe that art can help to change how we experience and live in our spaces, how we grieve, how we love, how we share and how we develop. I think that there are so many sad and hurting people who turn to alcohol, partying and deviant behaviour partly because they lack the know-how and understanding of how to more effectively and transformatively address their needs and their hurts. Art really does have the capacity to heal, to gather communities together to work through conflicts, and, of course, to bring us beauty and joy that can make our communities different kinds of places to live in.
I am excited about the possibilities of shifting the “social scape” of our country through the arts. I started Caribbean InTransit in 2010. It evolved from an engagement with one of my dearest friends, Alake Pilgrim, who insisted that I do a project with her for a conference in Puerto Rico. I have always had an insatiable drive to start arts-based social projects, so when I was transplanted from T&T on account of a Fulbright Scholarship to do my PhD in cultural studies in the US, my social endeavour took on a form that is in line with my academic pursuits.
The journal is now institutionally affiliated with African and African American Studies, George Mason University (GMU), Virginia. By our third issue we welcomed the institutional affiliation to ensure the longevity of the publication. Caribbean InTransit is the second stage in a movement begun in 2005. Empowering individuals and communities through the arts is my passion, my belief and my career. This for me is a calling and a ministry—God is at the centre of it.
The first official stage of this ministry was Caribbean Arts Village Ltd. Based in T&T, it was a social enterprise featuring a physical establishment that I started after graduating from the arts and cultural enterprise management programme at UWI. It was a social venture that aimed to facilitate, promote and network artists and artistes from around the Caribbean by becoming a community focal point, facilitating the showcase and development of Caribbean talent by offering youth training and programming. We welcomed budding artists as well as well-known names in the arts arena such as Michael Boothman, Sean Thomas, Clive Zanda and Raff Robertson, Isaac Blackman and the Love Circle and well-loved singer Raymond Edwards.
Caribbean InTransit is the only academic open access journal focused on the Caribbean arts. We also host symposia, art exhibitions, and arts for social change projects and our focus is on the arts and their capacity for social transformation. We use a multi-format enterprise and have a mostly female team that hails from across the francophone, hispanophone, anglophone and Dutch Caribbean as well as the Diaspora. With a rigorous, blind peer-review process, the publication welcomes submissions in English, French and Spanish of manuscripts, visual arts, poetry, film, interviews, reviews, and creative fiction and non-fiction. Now we have a section that looks at the intersection of the visual arts, fashion and the carnivalesque. Published twice a year, in spring and fall, Caribbean Intransit has a mission to “provide a creative meeting place for Caribbean artists to share their thought-provoking ideas and works within a community of cultural producers, students, scholars, activists, and entrepreneurs.”
A meeting place, it is not only about an encounter of cultures and like creative minds but a space for the meeting of diverse agendas. It is a meeting of the cultural producer with the policymaker, the teacher with the activist, the scholar with the community worker. I could not sustain this initiative without the critical expertise and support of my team. My editorial team members are actually all ahead of me academically and all the young women involved in the other technical aspects have completed post-graduate study. We have a range of specific positions to ensure that the publication is sound.
Sunday Arts Section writer Marsha Pearce, Caribbean Intransit managing editor, is completing her PhD in cultural studies at the University of the West Indies; manager of the blind peer-review process Meagan Sylvester, and Yolande Toumson, francophone specialist, who is based in Martinique, are also PhD candidates. Submissions manager Njelle Hamilton, based in New Hampshire, Katherine Miranda, hispanophone specialist, based in Puerto Rico, and Donna Hope, anglophone specialist, based in Jamaica, are all lecturers who hold their PhDs. Other team members in the US, Bahamas and Aruba are Ruby Eckmeyer, Janissa Khal, Keisha Oliver, Joseph Farquharson, Neila Ebanks, Stacey Cumberbatch, Malene Joseph and Kerri Smith.
Along with my team I now work to develop Caribbean Intransit as a model for academic interrogation and development of the arts and culture industry of the Caribbean. To date we have launched three issues at the National Gallery of Jamaica, UWI, Trinidad and GMU. Caribbean InTransit has had over 7,000 visits to its online issues with readers from around the world, the top five countries being the United States, Belize, T&T, the United Kingdom and Barbados. We engage guest editors who are well-known Caribbean scholars and professionals.
We have proposed various projects and have been fortunate that arts groups and institutions have engaged meaningfully with us. Caribbean InTransit has hosted a symposium in collaboration with the Art Museum of the Americas (OAS), and another with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, an art exhibition at the Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC, as well as other panel discussions.
This is Me is an arts-for-social-transformation project we launched; it focuses on at-risk youth and people living with HIV and Aids. The project has seen two iterations, with students from Belmont Boys’ Secondary School and people living with HIV and Aids in Jamaica. We partnered with Provisions Library for this project and it was led by team member Kamilah Morain and artists Edgar Endress from Chile and Euro- Jamaican Olivia McGilChrist. We invite free subscriptions to Caribbean InTransit’s newsletter via our Web site and Facebook. Writers and artists can also submit manuscripts and artworks via our Web site at: http://caribbeanintransit.com/current-issue/ https://www.facebook.com/c...
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