Meet the Arts Org: Haiti Cultural Exchange

For the month of November, the featured group from BAC’s Directory of Brooklyn Arts Organizations is two time BAC Grant recipient Haiti Cultural Exchange. Here we interview Executive Director, Régine M. Roumain who gives us some insight on what its like to run this nonprofit arts organization.

Brother High performs and leads procession at Mizik Ayiti! - June 2013

Brother High performs and leads procession at Mizik Ayiti! – June 2013

Why and when was your arts group founded and by whom?

Led by Co-Founder and current Executive Director, Régine M. Roumain, Haiti Cultural Exchange was established in 2009 by seven Haitian-American women in response to a dearth of opportunities for Haitians to explore their culture and for Haitian artists and those in the Diaspora to share their work with new  and diverse audiences.

Where in Brooklyn are you located?

We are located in Crown Heights.

Ibi Zoboi reads stories at Krik Krak Storytelling & Songs - August 2013

Ibi Zoboi reads stories at Krik Krak Storytelling & Songs – August 2013

Who is your primary audience?

Haitians and Haitian-Americans.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of running an arts organization in Brooklyn?

As a small, under-resourced arts organization, our staff has to wear many hats.  We struggle with finding the right balance between doing the work that is core to our mission — providing high quality and engaging community arts programming — and all of the other elements that are required to effectively run a nonprofit: finding support for the organization within a limited pool of institutional donors, reaching diverse audiences in Brooklyn, hiring qualified staff etc.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of running an arts organization in Brooklyn?

Brooklyn is the home of so many Haitians – first, second and third generation immigrants; so many of whom are artists.  The vibrancy of the arts scene in Brooklyn and the community networks that we have built over the years makes this work very rewarding.

What do you see as the biggest issues facing the arts community today?

Remaining relevant and responsive to our respective communities.  Coping with the difficult economic situation facing New Yorkers.  Events in Haiti that have a direct impact on our communities.

Jean Mary Brignol on drums, Chico Boyer on guitar & Renald Felix on flute at An n' Pale with Georges Vilson

Jean Mary Brignol on drums, Chico Boyer on guitar & Renald Felix on flute at An n’ Pale with Georges Vilson

Do you have any major events, projects or expansions on the horizon?

HCX plans many events and programs throughout the year and we strive to be a dynamic arts organization that provides  our constituency with multiple ways to become engaged in HCX programs.  In the spring of 2014 we are planning a two-month long festival celebrating Haitian culture – SELEBRASYON! will showcase a diverse array of artists in the performing, visual and literary arts in venues all across Brooklyn.  STAY TUNED!

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