Tag Archives: arts funding

Carib Lit Plus Early to Mid November 2020

A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back. (in brackets, as much as I can remember, I’ll add a note re how I sourced the information)


Dawn French, Zoanne Evans, Adaiah Sanford, Arnold Ward, Karllen Lawrence, and Robertha Alleyne have been named as finalists in the first annual Caribbean Literary Works competition. The top applicants’ video pitches can be viewed on organizer the Ducreay Foundation, a non profit collaborating on the prize with Reycraft Books’, social media. At the end of the competition there will be three top finalists.
Winner: Reycraft publishing contract +5000 USD advance+ royalties from books being sold
Second Prize:2000 USD + Full free editorial review and mentorship by REYCRAFT Books
Third Prize:1000 USD+Full free editorial review and mentorship by REYCRAFT Books
The foundation – through its educational workshops, forums and activities strives to bridge the gap between different peoples, genders and backgrounds. It was founded by Ms. Dahlia A. Ducreay commonly known as “Dee”. She is a bilingual educational economist (Fluent Mandarin and English) from the Commonwealth of Dominica with extensive social, educational and economic development experience, who has worked and lived in Asia (People’s Republic of China) for over 10 years.

Reycraft Books is an American publishing house based in New York.

(Source – This one came in via email and I subsequently communicated with the founder Dahlia Ducreay)


Lorna Goodison’s tenure as poet laureate of Jamaica has come to an end with well deserved plaudits. Goodison succeeded Mervyn Morris. Her tenure ran for three years. Jamaica is one of a small handful of Caribbean nations that has laureate programmes. The laureate works to enliven literary activity around literary arts in country and between the country and the world. (Source – St. Lucian poet John Robert Lee shared this article via email)

Caribbean Arts Funding (an update)

Arts funding and/or philanthropy allowing Caribbean writers to do what they do, create, is rare. But Catapult – a joint initiative by American Friends of Jamaica (a NY non profit with a 40 year history of funding charitable organizations in Jamaica), Kingston Creative (a Jamaica non profit set up in 2017 to enable creatives to succeed), and Fresh Milk (a Barbados charity which provides residencies and programmes to enable Caribbean artists to grow)- has made lemonade of these 2020 lemons, providing something that has long been needed – financial support with opportunities to write, to connect, to share, to grow. “In recognition of the serious impact of COVID-19 on the creative industries, a $320,000 fund from the Open Society Foundations was awarded to the American Friends of Jamaica, in collaboration with Kingston Creative and The Fresh Milk Art Platform, to support artists, creators and cultural practitioners throughout the Caribbean region. This grant recognizes the current global pandemic, a crisis that disproportionately affects the creative sector in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), few of which have the resources to provide adequate support to those working in this vital sector.” (Source: ACP-EU Culture)

We have reported on the Catapult grants in trickles but thought it prudent to provide a round up with context. The funding has been allocated to six areas: Caribbean Arts Showcase, Caribbean Creative Online, Digital Creative Training, Consultancy Vouchers, Lockdown Virtual Salon, and Stay Home Artist Residency.

The Caribbean Arts Showcase will present features by artists in written, video, or audio format which will be published to promote the talent and diversity in the region, and to give insight into the work and life of creatives.

The Caribbean Creative Online component of CATAPULT invites artists to share a recording of a performance, talk, webinar, workshop or other online activity on the platform of their choice. The goal is to increase artists’ visibility in the online arena, raise their comfort level with performing in the digital space, and support artists financially during the pandemic by allowing them to earn from online activities…Each of the 100 artists selected from across the English, French, Spanish and Dutch speaking Caribbean will receive a grant of $500 USD.” This list includes Jamaica’s Amina Blackwood-Meeks, whom Antiguans-Barbudans should know from her time here, Juleus Ghunta, whose works has been shared several times on the blog, AdZiko Simba Gegele, known around here as the first Burt Award winner, the Rebel Women Lit book club, Dominica’s Celia Sorhaindo, among others – including, as you’ll see below, yours truly.

The Digital Creative Training Workshops , creatives will develop essential digital knowledge and business skills to enable them to reach new audiences and markets which as a result of COVID-19 now must be accessed through digital tools and platforms.” There courses were held between September and October.

The CATAPULT Consultancy Voucher Programme provides professional expertise to cultural practitioners to aid in the development of entrepreneurial potential through their online presence. Creatives will receive consulting support from technical experts from the region to set up a website, social media platforms, or online store to increase their ability to conduct e-commerce and market their works globally. Each selected creative, 40 in total, will receive a $500 USD voucher to be used for website, social media, and/or e-commerce capability development.” Winners include Jamaican indie publisher Tanya Batson-Savage.

The CATAPULT Lockdown Virtual Salon programme aims to mitigate isolation, especially heightened during the current pandemic, by creating virtual platforms for cultural practitioners to engage in discourse about and explore their evolving practices. These one-hour artist talks from their homes or studios will be live-streamed via the Fresh Milk YouTube channel at 1PM and 4PM AST, every Tuesday and Friday between September 29th & November 20th, 2020.” You can also view the full playlist on the Fresh Milk YouTube if you miss the lives.

The Catapult Lockdown Virtual Salon begins here.

The CATAPULT Stay Home Artist Residency provides opportunities for 24 cultural practitioners from the English, French, Spanish and Dutch speaking Caribbean to be supported while safely remaining in their studios/work-spaces, each of whom will receive a $3,000 USD stipend to produce work over a two-month period.” This is the kind of support artists need and we can all look forward to the work to be produced by the likes of Trinidad and Tobago’s Lisa Allen-Agostini and Shivanee Ramlochan, and Bahamas’ Sonia Farmer, all of whom should be familiar to readers of the blog – with many more to discover.

Fresh Milk’s Founding Director Annalee Davis expressed enthusiasm regarding the partnership. “Fresh Milk is pleased to have the opportunity to partner on this critical project nurturing Caribbean artists. With little support available at the state level for so many cultural practitioners working across this vulnerable region, having an opportunity to facilitate Stay At Home Residencies and Virtual Salons means that more artists can safely remain in their studios and do what they do best-make art!” (Source)

What else to say except more of this, please.

(This has multiple sources – obviously, I’m an applicant and grantee but also the Salon updates have been flooding my instagram, and before that artist announcements on being awarded a grant has popped up on my facebook)


Amanda Choo Quan, 2020 winner of the Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize, is hosting an online series called ‘Let’s Be Real’ — which takes the form of frank, solution-oriented discussions with editors, educators, agents, and more. “We aim to place Caribbean writers in conversation with people they would not normally have access to — international allies already dedicated to championing marginalised voices,” Choo Quan said. LIT’S BE REAL runs for a four-episode season every other Wednesday (4 and 18 November, 2 and 16 December, 2020), aiming to follow the arc of a writer’s career. Topics covered will include MFA and academic programmes, pitching and submitting articles to publications, and the troubling question of international audiences misunderstanding a Caribbean writer’s “voice.” Read more here. (Source – this one came to the Wadadli Pen mailbox from the Bocas Lit Fest, which also used the opportunity to announce season 3 of its virtual Bios and Bookmarks series, a series initially launched during COVID-19 lockdown)


The Best of Books bookstore braved the COVID-19 storm to host a live outside (masked up) meet the author event during the Independence season in Antigua and Barbuda. Of course, you can get the books in store any time.

Speaking of events, some of the videos I need to share are not a good fit for my youtube channel, so I made one for Wadadli Pen. Now, I just need an intern to run it. Here’s the first vid, from the Best of Books author event.

More pics and vids here.

(Source – having accepted an invite from the bookshop, I was at the event and asked them and participating author Brenda Lee Browne to send me pictures and video)

I will be recording a virtual Ask Me Anything and Reading as part of my Catapult Caribbean Creatives Online award. Ask your questions about themes, craft, and story related to my writing. Get them in this week by leaving them in the comments of any of my social media – video questions also welcomed. ETA: intake of questions have ended; video being prepped. Read about it here.

The National Public Library of Antigua and Barbuda’s Author of the Month series is back and the next author up is Floree Williams Whyte – author of Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses, Through the Window, and The Wonderful World of Yohan. Floree’s reading and book discussion is on November 25th 2020. And the best part is you can watch live on facebook from home. (Source – The NPL is active on facebook and I may have seen this flyer in my newsfeed there)

The Royal Society of Literature, in honour of its 200th birthday, and Bocas Lit Fest, in honour of its 10th, will be hosting an event, ‘What’s So Great about Jean Rhys?’ Dominican writer Jean Rhys wrote the seminal work Wide Sargasso Sea. Participants will include Trinidad and Tobago poet, columnist, and blogger Shivanee Ramlochan with novelist Linda Grant and academic Lauren Elkin. It’s on November 19th 2020. Register for the online event here. (Source – this came to my inbox with my rejection notification re the V S Pritchett prize)

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Caribbean Writers Discuss Publishing – Lessons, Breakthroughs, and Rights 5/5

Recently, I (Joanne C. Hillhouse of Antigua and Barbuda) reached out to three female Caribbean writers (Diana McCaulay of Jamaica, Lisa Allen-Agostini of Trinidad and Tobago, and Shakirah Bourne of Barbados) with whom I have in common the distinction of being a finalist for the Burt Award for Teen/Young Adult Caribbean Literature (Diana with Daylight Come in 2019 and Gone to Drift in 2015; Shakirah with My Fishy Stepmom in 2018; and Lisa with Home Home in 2017; my own Musical Youth was a 2014 finalist).

daylight comeGone to DriftMy-Fishy-StepmomHome HomeMusical Youth

The three writers interviewed for this series have further distinguished themselves by selling rights to U.S. editions of their Burt books (McCaulay’s Gone to Drift released in the US market with Harper Collins in 2016; Lisa’s Home Home’s US edition landing in 2020 with Delacorte Press; and Shakirah’s book forthcoming in 2021 with Scholastic). I want to thank them for making the time because I believe their experiences, different though they are, are an education on publishing, especially if you’re a Caribbean Writer. The conversation is serialized due to length (so click here for the start of the series) – there are 5 questions.

Q. 5. I also want to touch a bit on the value of an author as a brand. How do you feel valued as a Caribbean author, how do you feel not valued? – re speaking fees, copyright etc. but, also, generally.

Lisa: I have always taken my branding seriously. I got married at 19 and took my husband’s last name primarily because there were other Lisa Allens out there writing and I needed a unique brand. Lisa Allen-Agostini is a hellishly long name but it’s one-of-a-kind. I built my brand as a creative writer alongside my brand as an arts journalist and critic. Since 2009 when I joined Facebook I began using that platform to post about my events and publications. I also post about literary events I attend and regional literary news. I got an Instagram account a few years ago and those work in tandem. I also have a blog which isn’t active at the moment. I’m not one of those shy writers who pretends their work hasn’t been published. I post everything, and I accept nearly every invitation to speak or read. I have intellectual capital from this brand-building, and I sometimes get asked to judge competitions, give speeches or sit on panels to discuss the creative arts. I participate in the Bocas Lit Fest annually, doing every reading or panel discussion I’m invited to do.

  • Gone to Drift on the shelf at Powell's, Portland, Oregon

    Gone to Drift on the shelf at Powell’s, Portland, Oregon. Having a US edition for Diana meant seeing her book on shelves in the US, one of the biggest global markets, for the first time.

Diana: I don’t think of being an author as a ‘brand’ at all. I really distrust that characterization – plus I occupy a, let us say, somewhat uncomfortable position as a light skinned Caribbean writer of privilege. So the entire process of promoting myself and my work is very, very difficult for me – I wish I did not have to do it at all. I don’t think I’m particularly effective in front of an audience, and I hate saying to anyone – buy my book. Or: Laad, post a review, nuh!?

Lisa: I do get paid commissions to write pieces. I don’t usually get paid for speaking or reading (the Burt tour was an exception), though I might get a commemorative gift from the people who invite me. A lot of unpaid labour goes into being a writer. I can spend five to ten hours a week managing my social media–more if I have an event. The week of the Bocas Lit Fest I’d be gone all day, every day, attending readings and panels and photographing them, and lurking in the lounge to meet and network with publishers and other writers.

Calabash 2016 @Cookie Kinkead

Diana presenting at the Calabash literary festival in Jamaica in 2016. by Cookie Kinkead.

Diana: Huge amount of unpaid work. Huge. I do get paid to write sometimes, I seek out those opportunities, but I would say it’s underpaid. I’ve never been paid for speaking as a writer, occasionally I’ve been paid as a competition judge or reader.

Lisa: I do feel valued, even cherished, as a writer. However, I wish we had a system of patronage so that writers could survive without having to hustle doing the kind of work that pays bills. People advocate the hustle. I don’t, but with no arts council funding in the region it’s impossible to avoid.

Diana: Do I feel valued as a writer? Hmm. Sometimes. Not often. But I’m also aware that writers tend to have huge amounts of insecurity about their writing, so it’s possible that my feelings of lack of value are more to do with my own weaknesses than an objective situation. But yeah, there’s no arts council support here and I think it’s true everywhere that only the mega stars can afford not to work at other jobs. I remember hearing Olive Senior once say that she wished she had more time to think, to dream, to create, and I do wish that too.


Diana with the last of the Burt Award finalists in 2019.

I also want to say that more recently, I feel optimistic about the success of Caribbean writers on the world stage, I started to list names, but then realized what a long list it is. I’m proud to be an editor for PREE, a new online magazine celebrating contemporary Caribbean writing. I’m glad we have our own festivals – a growing number too. So I’m happy to be a part of the Caribbean writing community.

Shakirah:  Joanne, in an article you once described me as “never doing one thing at a time, it seems, on the page or in life” and that is such an apt description. I started off in adult short fiction, but then became known for my comedy films, and now I’m venturing into children’s fantasy books; I am a marketer’s nightmare. However my brand has always been “authentic Barbadian stories” and I hope that readers, viewers, attendees, whoever, expect to be entertained and enlightened in some way when they consume my work.

The market is flooded with books and other content from Western media, so I’ve found that local consumers really value my Bajan stories, and international readers are excited to experience a different point of view. So whether it is an elderly Bajan woman laughing at the local cinema, or an email from a reader in the UK who is grateful for the little taste of home or an acceptance from an international publisher, I have always felt valued as a Caribbean writer.

I expect to be compensated for my time, especially for paid events, and I don’t depend on other persons to assign a value to it. It took a while, but I’ve become very comfortable in asking “do you have a budget?” Fortunately I’ve not interacted with many people who are surprised by the question. I appreciate when people are upfront about not having a budget and if I’m still interested, we discuss avenues for funding, or compensation in kind. When I’m invited to events, they usually cover all expenses and at least offer a per diem if they can’t afford speaking fees.

Still, there are few avenues for literary funding and for authors to make money from public speaking. For instance, in the US, earnings from school appearances can be significant; I was shocked at the average fees for a school author visit. Not many public schools here could afford a fraction of that price, but they do have supportive teachers who are happy to buy a certain amount of books. It may be a while before it is commonplace for an author to charge so much for a school visit, but in the meantime I try to partner with local cultural organisations to facilitate these sessions.


That’s it that’s the series – here are links to parts 1, 1.2, 2, 3, 4, and interviewer Joanne C. Hillhouse’s take, after some prompting, on her own questions. I’ve since made my answers in to an addendum to the series here on the Wadadli Pen blog – an unofficial part 6. Alternatively, you can use the search feature to the right to find earlier installments of these women breaking down their experiences in publishing. It’s worth noting that their published books are only one part of their CVs. Lisa is a comedian and freelance writer, Diana is an environmental activist; and Shakirah is a filmmaker and consultant; and

I am a freelance writer and editor, writing coach and course/workshop facilitator; Me before the reading and that’s only a part of it.


All images are courtesy of the authors and interview was conducted and published by Joanne C. Hillhouse. You can excerpt and share with link-back/credit but do not republish without permission.


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