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Haïti dans le monde

A Miami, le Centre culturel de Little Haïti reste sous-exploité et sous-financé



One user, Dance Now! co-director Hannah Baumgarten, defends the city's go-slow approach. Given the lack of funding and supervisory staffing, she said, trying to ramp up use quickly could end up damaging the center's facilities and reputation.

``What they're allowing to happen is a natural bubbling up of activities. I think they're doing it cautiously, and I think they're doing it well,'' Baumgarten said. ``That way we can hone our programs to serve the community best.''

Parks officials, however, can't even pinpoint the facility's budget. The consultant recommended an operating budget of more than $500,000, funded in part by proceeds from fees, performances and rentals. Administrators say it's likely less than that.

Burkeen was unable to provide the amount his department spends to run the center, saying there is no money specifically allocated to it other than the salaries of four employees. Asked for a copy of the master plan, Burkeen replied: ``I have to locate it first.''

Because of the city budget crisis, 24-hour security -- in a sometimes iffy neighborhood -- was reduced to a single overnight shift.

Center manager Rasha Cameau, a former city Neighborhood Enhancement Team director who has earned plaudits from Spring and other patrons since assuming the center's helm in August, said it does not have a maintenance staff.

``It's us,'' she said, referring to the center staff. ``We do what we can.''

Cameau, who has an MBA, has gradually built the dance program up and is looking for volunteers to start ceramics classes. The Sant La center may sponsor a jazz series, she said, and the Alliance Fraincaise some French lessons.

But Cameau has no money to market the center to potential users. Nor does she have experience running a cultural facility. And the people she expected to rely on in the parks department were laid off in city budget cuts.

``I'm not artsy, but I try to find ways to make this place work,'' she said.

For his part, Duval-Carrie said he's not giving up. With the University of Miami, he organized a forthcoming symposium on Caribbean contemporary art at the center. His French sponsors have committed to supporting annual art exhibits timed to Art Basel for four years.

``We try to use the space,'' the artist said, referring to his foundation, the Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance. ``But we cannot be the only ones. It is too good a facility not to be used.''

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Lundi 15 Février 2010
Andres Viglucci
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