NEW YORK, NY. Monday, May 13, 2019 —Braata Productions celebrated ten years of highlighting and preserving the cultures of the Caribbean with fun and fanfare but the promise of another decade of ‘a little bit more’, was tempered with the announcement that one of its programs, could fold at the end of 2020, if adequate funding is not secured by then.
At last Thursday’s anniversary launch reception at the offices of the Jamaican Consulate, in Manhattan, Founder and Executive Director Andrew Clarke, in a pointed, heartfelt ‘thank you’, to a roomful of sympathizers, partners and members, warned that it takes more than a ‘thank you’ note to keep the ten-year-old, multi-faceted production unit ‘performance-ready’, under the existing conditions.
“As of June 2020, it will be the last time that the Braata Folk Singers will perform as an ensemble. I think it’s a good time for us to say goodbye. Unfortunately, our community is not supporting us in the sort of way that will ensure its survival. It has been a sacrifice and a true love and one of the hardest things to let go off,” he said while paying tribute to the late Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley, OM, Jamaica’s first lady of comedy and folk.
It was not all bad news, however, as Clarke said that the company would instead focus its artistic energies in other areas, a move interpreted by many as ‘leaving the door open’ for partnerships with The American Foundation for the University of the West Indies (AFUWI), JAMPRO, The Guyana Cultural Association and the Union of Jamaican Alumni Associations-USA, Inc., who were on hand to wish the company a ‘Happy 10’.
“So, although we are saying goodbye, we are not ending on a sad note. We are (instead) saying hello and welcome to all of the other fantastic programming and with your support, we can keep the other programs alive and well and take them beyond the Tri-State area”.
Highlights of the anniversary launch reception included, presentations by AnnMarie Grant, Executive Director/AFUWI; LesleyAnn Samuel, President/UJAA (USA), Inc.; Christopher Benjamin, Vice Consul/JAMPRO; the unveiling of the company’s new logo by Tanya Taylor and a refreshed and updated website, by Dreya St. Clair.
Launched in 2010, as a non-profit organization, to showcase Caribbean folk culture in prime time, the production company outlined an ambitious schedule of ten (10) events evenly spaced and ending in June 2020, to celebrate a decade of the arts.
The year-long celebration which starts on June 8, with ‘Bankra’, a festival of Caribbean folk traditions, at the St. Albans Park, Queens, will end with the Braata Folk Singers in concert, at a date and venue, to be determined.
By Aubrey Campbell