BY NICOLE SLAUGHTER GRAHAM, Staff Writer
TAMPA — On Friday, Nov. 18, the STRAZ Center will celebrate the culture, history, and contribution of Haiti in its latest installment of the Arts Legacy REMIX program, dubbed “Selebrasyon Ayisyen (Haitian Celebration) – A Day to Remember.” Right now, Haiti is experiencing political and social turmoil as gang presence and violence plague the country, limiting access to humanitarian aid.
NPR reports that at least half of the country’s citizens currently face extreme hunger, and to complicate things even more, the country is experiencing a cholera outbreak. In short, Haitians are facing a multilayered crisis.
Bringing light to the current tragedy the country faces is one reason the STRAZ Center wanted to dedicate this month’s REMIX presentation to Haiti, said community engagement manager Emma Trapp.
“We also have staff members at the Straz and on our Arts Legacy Dream Team who are part of the (Haitian) community and have been able to add a truly authentic and passionate element to this Arts Legacy.
Haiti’s history and culture are beautiful and worthy of celebration despite the country’s hardships, which is why the Arts Legacy team is looking forward to celebrating all things Haitian.
“Participants can expect an array of performances which include music, stand-up comedy, and spoken word,” Trapp said. “There will also be a large visual arts display under the Grand Canopy from local artists and pieces originally from Haiti.”
Additionally, participants can expect “a signature drink inspired by Haitian cuisine” and have a few laughs thanks to a performance by a local comedian.
Art and performance have long been a way to bring light to a country’s people and culture. These mediums are also some of the most effective ways to bring light to humanitarian and political issues a people faces. Celebration brings information and an opportunity for healing, but Trapp said the event will not take away from the understanding of Haiti’s turmoil.
“We at the Straz offer our support to those who have family and friends who are currently being affected. They will be in our thoughts as we celebrate the vibrant and wonderful culture of Haiti.”
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Performances include:
- Music by Straz Center artist-in-residence, Fred Johnson
- Singing performance – Elizabeth Dallard, Rebecca Moise, Edzer Beaucejour
- Dance performance by Erica Louis and dance group
- Percussion solo by Ralph Issac
- Spoken word by Sello
- Comedy piece as well
- Visual art by Haitian artist Junior Polo
The Arts Legacy REMIX series will continue in 2023. Performances of interest include:
- Friday, Jan. 13 – Let Freedom Ring (MLK Jr. Commemoration) – The Straz Center remembers and honors the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in celebration and amplification of our commitment to manifest his dream with an evening of gospel music, powerful words of the writings of Dr. King and young voices sharing their hopes and vision for 2023.
- Friday, Feb. 17 – International Women’s Celebration – This celebration will focus on women throughout the generations whose unique experiences will be brought to life through diverse artistic mediums. Women in different cultures and their unique journeys toward equality through dance, music and visual arts will be lauded.
- Monday, June 19 – 3rd Annual Juneteenth Commemoration (in Jaeb Theater) – In an evening of remembrance and celebration, this will recognize the importance of the date June 19, 1865, when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were set free, the act which officially ended slavery in America. Featured will be spoken remembrances, writings of historical importance, and an original performance.
As in previous seasons, Arts Legacy REMIX performances are open to the public and free. All performances start at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit the Straz Center’s Arts Legacy REMIX page.