By Tadia Toussaint
‘L’union fait la Force’ and that’s exactly what the event planners of the newly formed, New York Haitian Promoters Coalition (NYHPC) are hoping is true.
Long lines to get into parties, expensive event tickets, dysfunctional sound systems, and kompa bands arriving late, are some of the complaints that the Haitian promoters of NYHPC are looking to address. Together, they unite 14 entities of event planners committed to bringing professionalism and diversity to Haitian events in the city.
“There are 3-folds that NYHPC is trying to accomplish- unification, providing a better product and serving a global audience,” said culinary-personality Nadege Fleurimond. The caterer and event hostess is one of the 14 members of the newly-formed coalition, who has gained a large following that trust the quality events she puts on. “We have to realize its not just an individual event, we’re promoting Haiti.”
While each entity sustains their regular programming, under their membership in the coalition, they are sponsored by NYHPC to host one annual event.
NYHPC plans to work with an in-house attorney to construct a universal contract, which will standardize a professional relationship with venues, artists and organizations. When deals are broken, legal action will be taken.
“The more hands involved when organizing a party, the better it is,” Roberto Martino of T-Vice said. “When everyone (top tier promoters) is involved, it’s difficult to sabotage an event.”
The collaboration of the promoters, he thinks, will bring together the promoters’ following, generating more traffic to the events.
Martino, who performed with his band at NYHPC’s first event Saturday at Milk River in Brooklyn said that T-Vice practices good discipline and that they aren’t a band that violate deals.
However, “Having a contract protects both sides,” he said.
He explained that sometimes, not just the bands but the promoters don’t hold their end of the bargain.
“It’s business before anything.”
As for diversifying the genres featured at these events, “It’s all about demand, the promoter is there to make money. It’s normal that the promoter goes after bands that would bring in the people.”
If the artists of the other Haitian music genres create the demand, the promoters would follow through.
Putting on an event, Haitian promoters say isn’t easy.
“We don’t have enough venues,” said Evans Blaise, of Jaz Enterprise. “Haitians are known as the people who don’t really drink nor support the bar.” This infringes on sales that venue owners seek when they rent the space.
Evans Blaise, the central promoter behind La Nuit des Jeunes, trafficking hundreds each year to the event, said that normally the deals made with bands are verbal agreements which is why bands don’t keep promises like performing at a specific time.
“They can violate a contract and there would be no consequence,” he said. “Now, with the coalition, we hope that there would with an official contract where we can take legal action if deals are not kept. We’re not here to police the bands, we want to give the people better quality.”
The coalition is not just marketing themselves as a social enterprise, but also as business partners, with one of their main goals being to regain the trust of Haitian eventgoers. NYHPC will host town hall meetings, conduct online surveys and twitter parties to get feedback from the community.
“The organization faces many challenges ahead,” NYCHP wrote in an article published on HaitianBeatz.com. “including an industry without a major record label, no marketing firms, no distributing companies, no musician associations, lack of structure and more importantly a public that has no faith in its event organizers.”
“In 2015, not having a major record label is no big deal,” says Haitian entertainment lawyer Miriam Camara, 27, who has her own practice. “With social media, people can go viral in seconds.”
Camara says independent labels are rising in popularity. “Not having a record label twenty years ago might explain why the Haitian music industry (HMI) doesn’t have the foundation they need to exist now.”
The press conference, moderated by Jean Claude Vaval, brought to light other important issues in the Haitian arts and culture community like popularizing events featuring women musicians, underground Haitian artists, Haitian rap, comedians and the ‘racine’ music genre.
NYHPC aims to create a platform for advocacy, public awareness, production improvements and economic viability in the Haitian events industry.The coalition consists of an administration of individuals representing four entities: Nadege Fleurimond Presents, Jaz Enterprise, Destiny Enterprise and Reksha Productions.
The other groups in the NYHPC include Silk Entertainment, Bertho Zenith Productions, Brother Production, Destiny Enterprise, Haitian All Starz, HaitianBeatz Promotions, HighClass Pioneers, Hollywood Production, Saurel Celestin Events, Showbiz Entertainment, and Shamir Muzik.
The deadline to join the coalition was Oct. 4. Interested parties must wait until next year when the application season reopens and the current member have to vote to approve further entry.
“Strength in force, right?” Camara said. “There is strength in numbers. If the entities put their resources together, they can show standard professionalism and that would regain the trust of the Haitian community.”