Virgin Islands Council on the Arts brings arts and humanities awareness to the territory throughout the month of October to enrich the cultural life of its citizens.
VICA hosted two days of “Back 2 School” art supply drive-through events to honor National Arts and Humanities Month and to give free art supplies to the first 100 students on St. Thomas on Oct. 10 and on St. Croix on Oct. 17.
Kendall Henry, the special projects coordinator for VICA on St. Croix, said the St. Thomas event was very successful.
“There was a lot of traffic surrounding the VICA office, which is close to Emancipation Garden where the majority of the 100 bags were given to students,” Henry said. “The event was well received.”
St. Croix experienced heavy downpours and drizzling alternately on Saturday morning, which caused a change to the “drive-through” location outside the entrance to the Dorsch Center on Strand Street in Frederiksted. It was modified with a “walk-through” of the theater and onto the stage to receive the gift bags.
The change was unexpected yet welcomed by those in the community who were not familiar with the legendary Dorsch Center. It was a first for many who had never been inside the amphitheater or had even known what went on inside.
“This is the first time I’m here. What do you do here?” Donnish Nicholas asked Henry. Nicholas brought her three children – Amari, Chisari and Chizahra – for the art supplies gift bags. A friend sent her the flier with the information, she said.
“It’s a nice thing to keep the kids occupied,” she said.
Henry quickly obliged Nicholas and others with a brief history of the Dorsch Center. It’s a hidden secret, he said.
“Art and cultural activities and many theatrical performances have been presented here for many years at the Dorsch, and the theatre was rented for all kinds of activities,” Henry explained.
Damages due to Hurricane Hugo kept the venue closed for many years, but the repairs were made, and it’s been available for performances again. Recently, since COVID-19 interrupted in-person performances, the theater has been used for virtual and online activities. VICA occupies office space in the venue and assists nonprofit organizations and individual artists to apply for grants, he continued.
Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. announced in a declaration that October would be celebrated as Arts and Humanities Month in the Virgin Islands, Henry said. According to Henry, VICA has events going on from Oct. 1 through Oct. 30. The council represents the arts with an activity every day. The activities are available on the organization’s website, Instagram and Facebook page.
VICA is excited that the community has chosen to embrace different events and posts this month, Henry said. He encourages the community to continue using the hashtag #supporthearts for the remainder of October.
The art supply gift bags were filled with construction paper, glue, scissors, crayons, a watercolor set and a face mask. An extra gift in the first 26 bags was local author Rick Grant’s book, “Health and Safety for You and Me,” with illustrations by Anabel Alfonso. At the end of Saturday’s event, 82 gift bags were distributed. Imani Evans assisted Henry with the event.
VICA airs a video every Thursday in an ongoing series, “Art Creates Hope.” The community can view the videos on YouTube each week.
The VICA offices are open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday to Friday and can be reached by calling 340-773-3075 on St. Croix or 340-774-5984 on St. Thomas.