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Using the Internet to boost the opening up of Caribbean art

Today, having some visibility on the Internet is vital for the development of any artistic career, and even more when one resides in the Caribbean. Online reviews, websites and blogs are increasing.

Among the fourteen review titles AICA Southern Caribbean have listed – without pretending to be exhaustive- there are some e-publications such as Draconian Switch, Arteamerica, and Artcronica, as well as websites or blogs related to printed reviews, either with general or specialized topics about the visual arts: Arc Magazine, Caribbean Intransit, Small Axe, Caribbean Beat, Caribbean Quarterly, and Arte por Excelencias.

Repeating Islands, Arte Sur, Gens de la Caraïbe, Aica Caraïbe du Sud, and Uprising Art, on the opposite publish regularly exclusively online, sometimes daily unlike the online reviews publishing periodically which are mentioned above.

Four among these reviews, Caribbean Intransit, Small Axe, Arte por Excelencias and Repeating islands are initiated from the Diaspora, whereas the others are created within the Caribbean. There are seven reviews from the English-speaking area, three from the Spanish-speaking area, and four from the French-speaking area. However, two of these are trilingual, three bilingual, seven others are written exclusively in English, another in Spanish and the last one in French.

After introducing Artcronica, Uprising Art and Gens de la Caraïbe, Aica Southern Caribbean favours the editor of the blog, Marielle Barrow  and downloadable online review Carib Intransit, a good opportunity for the publication of its fourth issue.

 

What were your main objectives for creating Caribbean Intransit? After publishing four issues do you consider you have achieved these objectives?

Caribbean InTransit started organically. One of my closest friends invited me to co-author a paper for a conference in Puerto Rico. It involved interviewing artists on the notion of “what is Caribbean?” and how we understand the notion of location as a qualifier of Caribbeanness. This project sparked the idea of the journal, which followed in the same conscience of my earlier social enterprise projects. It was not only about the showcase of the Caribbean arts but about developing a model that further enables infrastructural development of a Caribbean arts industry. But further to this, the possibilities for social development through the arts has long been embedded in my understanding, belief and passion for the arts. So Caribbean InTransit was and is about development and community through the arts.  Inherent to development potential is education, business, and a deeper understanding of who we are as a people.

 How regularly do you publish? Since creating this publication have you managed to keep up with this periodicity?

We publish twice a year- in Spring and in Fall to sync with the academic calendar. Yes, we have maintained the number of publications however our fourth issue did come out in Summer this year as we have been planning two festivals and also registering as a non-profit in the US and Trinidad.

How many visitors log in to your site every month? How many online readers do you have? And from what specific areas do these readers come from?

We have over 500 visits every month on our website combined with over 900 visits over the last few months on Digital Library of the Caribbean (DLOC) platform.  Our website visitors are from all around the US, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, France, Spain, the Bahamas and Argentina. We will also be publishing on the Directory of Open Access Journals website (DOAJ).

Why do you print only 25 issues? Does the public accept easily printing the magazine using their own computer?

We are an online publication so our prints are mostly for showcase.  Persons can now print on demand via our website if they choose or they can download the pdf.

As for the financial support from George Mason University, Virginia (USA), does that mean that your readers are mainly students or teachers?

  Our work takes a critical approach and is an academic publication with a double blind peer review process but we publish visual essays, creative fiction and non-fiction, poetry and film as well, all of which are more accessible to wider audiences. So while we do cater to students and lecturers, we also cater to more diverse audiences as well. Our readers include the academic segment as well as policy makers and arts audiences.

What strategy have you developed to distribute your review?

Our publication is free to all audiences. We distribute via our online newsletter, social media, at our own launch events and the events of others. In addition we are also available on the Digital Library of the Caribbean  (dloc.com) and will soon be available on the Directory of Open Access Journals

What is according to you the main role of the Caribbean Diasporas concerning visual arts?

 There are many practicing visual artists from the Caribbean in the Diaspora. Firstly, I think we should ask, is their role different to that of artists practicing within the Caribbean? I think that the onus is on both groups to find common ground, common agendas and activate those agendas between the Caribbean and the Diaspora making use of the benefits to be derived from both sites.  I would say then that the main role of the Caribbean Diasporas concerning the visual arts is not to operate as a disconnected site but to make use of the resources available to them and allow for what Dr. Keith Nurse calls brain circulation- the circulation of ideas between spaces and also the circulation of resources.

What are the main obstacles to the development of your project?

Funding, funding, funding but also time as I am completing my PhD and this is a heavy time investment. We have a formidable team of young women who are mostly academics and artists. We all have time constraints but we are committed to the growth of the Caribbean arts and this is one avenue for its growth. Coordinating a team across the Caribbean can be tricky at times but it is also exciting and fruitful. I think that this project is about developing a model that works and that circles back to the previous question of the role of the Diaspora- the Diaspora is a critical element of a carefully crafted model for Caribbean arts practice, critique and showcase.

Technically speaking how do you create this review: printing, graphics? Do you work with a permanent group of salaried workers?

For the first issue we worked with Jamaican artist Clayton Rhule who also designed our logo. Subsequently we became affiliated with George Mason University and the university, more specifically the African and African American Studies program sponsors a small stipend to a graphic designer on campus for our visuals.

 We work with a team of volunteers who are scholars and artists from around the Caribbean and Diaspora including the Hispanophone, Francophone and Dutch Caribbean.  Our Managing Editor, Dr. Kathalene Razzano is a graduate of the Cultural Studies program at George Mason and is fervently committed to our project but she is not from the Caribbean. We have team members as far as Spain, Dr. Marta Fernandez Campa; the Netherlands, Dr. Nicole Jordan but also at home- Meagan Sylvester who is Manager of Blind Peer Reviews, and Dr. Marsha Pearce- Content Specialist and Dr. Katherine Miranda, Hispanophone Specialist.  From the Diaspora, we have Dr. Njelle Hamilton, and Stacey Cumberbatch who are our Senior Copy Editors and Annalee Davis our Cover Curator.

In addition we have just installed our Trinidad board and our International board. Our Trinidad board is a force of women to be reckoned with- Samantha Gooden, Regional Brand Manager for LIME; Neysha Soodeen, CEO of Toute Bagai publishing (MACO magazine); Carlene Moolchan, CEO of Elysium Investments Ltd, Shana Bhajan, Project Manager at the Tallman Foundation and Malene Joseph, a returning scholar and Project Officer at the Ministry of Trade and Our International Board is just being developed – with Michael Nelson, Country Manager at the Inter-American Development Bank and  James Early  Director of Cultural Heritage Policy at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

  Dominique Brebion /Traduction Suzanne Lampla

 

 Marielle Barrow Bio

Marielle is a social entrepreneur, visual artist and Fulbright Scholar who is currently a Cultural Studies PhD candidate at George Mason University, Virginia and Visiting Scholar in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University.

 

 Marielle graduated with a BSc in Hospitality Management (joint degree program) from The University of the West Indies, and the University of Technology in Jamaica (Hons.) and earned a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts & Cultural Enterprise Management and an MPhil in Cultural Studies at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad with High Commendation. She is currently completing her first co-edited anthology entitled « Global Archipelago: Art, Location and the Caribbean ».

 

As a social entrepreneur she established Caribbean Arts Village Ltd to create a nexus for Caribbean artists in the region. The company hosted, trained and promoted musicians and visual artists at its base, The Centre for the Arts, in Port of Spain, from 2006 to 2007. Marielle launched Caribbean InTransit, a mechanism for social development through the arts in 2011. As a non-profit entity in the US and the Caribbean, Caribbean Intransit provides a creative meeting place for persons to share and develop their thought-provoking ideas and works within a community of cultural producers, students, scholars, activists, and entrepreneurs via scholarly publication,a newsletter, arts for social change workshops, symposia, online events and festivals.

 

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