By Rachele Viard
Since its inception, the Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival (PAPJAZZ) has become a staple in Haiti’s calendar. Many anxiously await January to partake in the various musical events, discover new international jazz artists, see some of their favorite local artists and meet new talent. The following are some of the most important things in the world.
The 14th edition of the PAPJAZZ Festival, however, is somewhat sociopolitical unrest that has left the country over the past 18 months, with the worst of it. Under ” peyi lok , “ businesses at all levels have been impacted. Some businesses have been looted or vandalized, while others have had to downsize or lay off staff, or even close their doors indefinitely. In addition, the tourism industry, which is now at a standstill.
PAPJAZZ organizers though are moving forward, despite the many challenges they’re facing in putting together the event that is scheduled for Jan. 18 – Jan. 25, 2020. When festival organizers Milena Sandler and Joel Widmaier announced they were forging ahead with their plans, which they urged.
Sandler, general manager of Foundation Haiti Jazz said. “The PAPJAZZ festival is one of the few things we have left,” one supporter said to her. It is a commitment to the community and has a passion that has been driving the team despite the obstacles they’ve faced.
“With such challenges as a lack of sponsors – this past year has been so critical for the private sector. Most of them can not commit to anything at all, at best, “she said. “In addition, political uncertainty weakens public administration, everything takes more time and the government’s commitment vis-à-vis PAPJAZZ is also compromised.”
Sandler and Widimaier launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds and mitigate the country’s civil unrest has had on the festival. To date, they’ve raised nearly $ 6,000 of their $ 10,000 goal.
“Over the years, the Jazz Festival has been exposed to so many great artists. I am overjoyed to hear the festival will take place in 2020, “Angela Galbreath, an American PAPJAZZ aficionado who resides in South Carolina said. “There is something reassuring about the consistency of the event. It’s reliable. Honestly, I was contemplating a trip to Haiti in early 2020. Knowing that PAPJAZZ is on seals the deal for me. ”
Another huge challenge for the organizers is the scheduled date for the festival. What will be the country’s status? Will they have to change dates, will artists be available? Will they be able to host it at all? Those are some of the questions that will come into play as the date approaches.
What we do know, PAPJAZZ is a huge cultural and tourism asset for Haiti, one that Haitians locally and abroad can be proud of. It is one of the few events of this magnitude that is socially inclusive to 85 percent of the concerts and manages to attract international media coverage.
As of right now, however, the festival is a go, with award-winning international acts such as late Nina Simone’s daughter, Lisa Simone; Dee Dee Bridgewater, a three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter; the 10-time Grammy winning vocal group Take 6; Haitian favorites Jean “Belo” Bélony Murat, James Germain, and Eddy Francois.
To learn more about the festival or donate to the campaign, click here .