The Saint-B’Art association is about passion and commitment. It was created in 2002 by a small group of a few friends, united around the same motivation: developing culture in St-Barths in all its forms and making it accessible to everyone. The founders, painter Jean-Pierre Ballagny, writer Serge Perez, and Christian Hardelay, immediately knew how to provide a major boost and communicate their desire to create exceptional events which, over the years, have had great impacts on Saint-Barths’ cultural life.
Objectives were clear from the beginning:
- For young people and residents, discovering and appreciating the local environment, the traditions, and the culture of the island of Saint-Barths through photography, cinema, painting, writing, reading and all arts in general.
- Discovering and helping artistic vocations to develop their talents.
- Creating closer links between the various associations with a view to carrying out cultural programs.
The events created are many and rich and mostly recur from one year to the next. Here are some of the most emblematic examples:
The short story competition launched in 2003 for adults brought together more than thirty participants from the first edition. Thanks to this success, the competition for young writers was created 2 years later, allowing middle school students, and now primary school students, to work on a different theme each year. This competition has since become a long-awaited, more and more successful even. It brings together today for its 17th edition in 2022, more than 75 young people who will express themselves on the following theme: METAMORPHOSES.
Since 2003, French lessons have been offered free of charge to foreigners. Initially set up to allow Portuguese-speaking and Spanish-speaking workers to better integrate, the courses now benefit residents of more than 20 nationalities. Leïla Nazzal who is in charge of this action in the ST-B’ART association is assisted by volunteers so they can teach 3 different levels: Beginner, intermediate and confirmed.
The book and jazz festival are highly anticipated events that have become emblematic of the island. They are remarkable for the quality of the professional artists from the United States or Europe, who participate and contribute to the tourist attractiveness of the island. They are quite difficult to select, but the main criterion is that artists and writers share their knowledge and enjoy sharing their passion with the inhabitants of the island during workshops in schools, at the music school, nursing home, library and during master classes with local musicians.
This year, we will celebrate the 15th edition of the Book Festival and the 5th edition of the Jazz Festival, as well as the 20th anniversary of the association. It will be even more exceptional, with 28 artists from March 27 to April 11, 2022: 5 writers and illustrators, but also 23 musicians, singers, technicians who will perform for the organization of 9 concerts in 9 different magical places where jazz will wander in the most varied styles, not to mention a Gospel concert.
Over the years, the association has welcomed, among many other prestigious writers, Yann Arthus Bertrand, Dany Laferrière, Douglas Kennedy, Patrice Franceschi, Hicham Nazzal, Santiago Amigorena, David Foenkinos.
Other more specific events have also been truly appreciated. Here are some examples:
Painting competitions from 2002 to participate in financing the trip of three young dancers to a competition in metropolitan France, or with themes such as “Gustavia seen by its painters” with a view to producing a pre-stamped envelope at the image of Saint-Barthélemy. In 2004, the auction of 22 paintings offered by the painters of the island was organized for the benefit of the Music Festival, underlining the solidarity between the painters and the various associations.
Art day (L’Art en fête), organized in 2003 was renewed for 4 years now. It brought together all the cultural associations so that they can exchange, share, and be known to the public. The rectorate of Guadeloupe took over this concept not long ago.
Cinema workshops have been organized at the Mireille Choisy middle school for several years with the final goal being the production of a short film on the cultural activities of Saint-Barthélemy. (L’ART en Fête 2003 – St-Barth Film Festival 2005 – Painting competition 2004/2005 – Short story competition 2005 – Shows at the Colombier school – Theater 2004). For consecutive 6 years, these workshops took place with Cédric Robion, filmmaker, who used to live in Saint-Barths, Christian Gomilla, professional at France TV and Nicole Péraud.
The POSTAL ART competition, for the 4th year, with the theme “Metamorphoses”, offers everyone a completely free space for expression, open on communication. This contest combines the beauty of writing with all the artistic techniques to create an illustrated envelope.
The Book Exchange, which each year offers everyone the opportunity to exchange all kind of books, from comics to English language books, free of charge. Everyone is free to take the books they want.
The main actors of the Saint-B’ART association since its creation in 2022 with Jean-Pierre Ballagny and Serge PEREZ, were quickly joined by volunteers, all motivated and committed:
- The presidents from 2002 to 2022: Jean-Pierre Ballagny, Christian Hardelay, Didier Bensa.
- The oldest members : Leila Nazzal – Fabienne Miot – Karine Lédée – Sylvie Pollien – Corinne Hennequin.
- Members who have had important roles in the association : Nathalie Philippe – Rose Le Menn – Zaza Noah – Marie De Sepibus –– Christian Sallé – Marie-Blanche Lédée – Véronique Van der Noot
- Currently active members : Leila Nazzal – Fabienne Miot – Karine Lédée – Sylvie Pollien – Corinne Hennequin – Christian Hardelay – Emma Tinelli – Pauline Frappier.