Wednesday, 21 June 2017


Seemingly to make participants feel at home, temperatures soared to 37 degrees as a festival of Haitian art and culture began in Paris.

Organiser Josette Bruffaerts-Thomas
“Haϊti aux Grands Voisins” was launched on June 21, during France’s annual Fête de la Musique (Music Fest) and also during the hottest week of the year so far in the French capital.

But the heat only heightened the spirit of cooperation, as volunteers worked to hang paintings, set up stands, prepare for concerts and display books (at a mini book fair that includes literature from some of Haiti’s neighbours).

The festival is the brainchild of former lecturer Josette Bruffaerts-Thomas, president of a Franco-Haitian organization called Haϊti Futur that works to promote quality education and entrepreneurship in the Caribbean country.

The aim of the five-day event is to showcase the side of Haitian culture that often gets overlooked in international media reports, Bruffaerts-Thomas said. On display are works by leading Haitian painters and photographers such as Elodie Barthélémy, Eddy Saint-Martin and Henry Roy, along with emerging artists like Sandra Dessalines, who creates striking papier-mâché work, and Jephthe Carmil, who focuses on installations.

Photographer Henry Roy stands next to a painting by
Elodie Barthelemy. (Photo: McKenzie/SWAN)
This new festival also comprises concerts, film screenings, literary presentations, conferences and workshops.

Performers Joyshanti and Jackson Thélémaque will bring their special brand of energy to the live shows, while a number of chefs will offer courses in Haitian cuisine, and scholars will discuss a range of subjects - notably, the impact of Haiti’s history on its contemporary culture.

The “Grands Voisins” venue, located in the heart of Paris near the famed Catacombs, is an exceptional site that brings together groups and individuals working to improve lives.

Its open spaces, special accommodations, organic-food cafes and atmosphere of solidarity is a good match for this innovative festival celebrating Haitian culture.

Artist Eddy Saint-Martin, with one of his works, at the "Haiti aux Grands Voisins" festival.
(Photo: McKenzie/SWAN)

Artist Sandra Dessalines, in front of her artwork incorporating paper mache, rubber strips
and other materials. (Photo: McKenzie/SWAN)