Calibe Thompson, Jamaican Co-Founder of Island SPACE Caribbean Museum, Receives EmpowHer Award

The president and co-founder of Island SPACE Caribbean Museum Jamaican Calibe Thompson, was recently presented with US Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus McCormick’s EmpowHer Award for the category of “Women in Arts and Culture.” The prestigious award recognizes Thompson’s exceptional contributions within Florida’s 20th congressional district. The sold-out awards event took place on Saturday, March 23rd, in Fort Lauderdale.

Building a Legacy

Island SPACE Caribbean Museum, a project of the nonprofit organization Island Society for the Promotion of Artistic and Cultural Education (Island SPACE), stands as the only pan-Caribbean heritage museum in the United States. Located at Broward Mall in the City of Plantation, the museum and its associated gallery and event space were envisioned by Thompson and co-founder David I. Muir. Their mission is to elevate the profile of Caribbean art, history, and culture throughout South Florida and the broader diaspora.

Leading with Passion and Vision

Since its establishment in 2020, Thompson has been at the forefront of strategic planning, project management, fundraising, and programming development for the museum. With the support of a dedicated board of directors, a small staff, and passionate volunteers, she has helped Island SPACE become a beacon for Caribbean heritage in the region.

Acknowledging the Weight of Responsibility

Thompson’s dedication to the museum’s mission has not gone unnoticed. Despite the challenges of maintaining a brick-and-mortar facility, she remains committed to showcasing the rich tapestry of Caribbean culture. Thompson expressed her gratitude for the recognition, stating, “It’s really gratifying when someone with the stature of Congresswoman Cherfilus McCormick takes a moment to let you know that they see you, and that the work you’re doing is important.”

Island SPACE president Calibe Thompson addressing the audience at the 2024 Reggae Genealogy concert. | Photo: R.J. Deed

Celebrating Caribbean Culture

Island SPACE’s commitment to celebrating Caribbean culture extends beyond its walls. Museum visitors can also look out for new art exhibits and cultural installations every two to three months. Upcoming programming activities include celebrating Haitian heritage and art in in May at L’union Fait la Force, engaging children in traditional arts at the Anancy Festival in June, honoring women at HERS in July, exploring themes of emancipation in August, a Caribbean book fair and Peter Tosh memorial activities in October, the third annual Rum Cake and Caribbean Black Cake Festival in November, and the third annual Art Week Comes to Plantation event series in December.

Since the beginning of the year, Island SPACE has hosted a successful inaugural music festival — Reggae Genealogy — where lifetime achievement award-winner Cedella Marley promised the organization one of her father’s guitars and costumes from the I-Threes for a new Bob Marley exhibit, slated for a summer unveiling. 

Supporting the Mission

To support its mission, Island SPACE is currently running the “First 50” campaign, inviting donors to commit to giving $5,000 per year for the next five years. These contributions will help the museum remain sustainable and continue its vital work of representing Caribbean heritage in South Florida.

Island SPACE Caribbean Museum is supported by a number of organizations and individuals, including Broward Mall, the State of Florida Department of State, the Florida Division of Arts and Culture, and various funds at the Community Foundation of Broward.

Island SPACE Board Members Lasana Smith (former), Caren Muir, Calibe Thompson and David I. Muir receive an award from the Caribbean Bar Association. | Photo: Christian Ossohou (Island Syndicate)

Thompson’s receipt of the EmpowHer Award is not only a recognition of her individual achievements but also a testament to the important cultural work being done by Island SPACE Caribbean Museum. As the museum continues to thrive, it stands as a shining example of the power of art and culture to unite communities and preserve heritage.