The Virgin Islands Humanities Council (VIHC) and Virgin Islands Council on the Arts (VICA) announce their collaboration during October in celebration of National Arts & Humanities Month. The two organizations have partnered with the Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Committee to fund and highlight the shared history between the two territories.
Activities planned included student and adult panel discussions, a viewing of the film “Sugar Pathways,” and sharing of indigenous foods and desserts of both cultures.
“Puerto Rican Migration to the U.S. Virgin Islands: Living in Two Cultures,” received a grant of $8,800 from V.I. Council on the Arts, and a $5,025 grant from the V.I. Humanities Council to support activities of V.I-P.R. Friendship Month.
“The arts and humanities are similar yet very distinct. The humanities interpret the historical aspect of the arts and several other disciplines including religion, jurisprudence, cultural anthropology, and music just to name a few, while the arts address the creation and performance aspect of the same,” Mabel Maduro, executive director of VIHC, said. “Together the V.I. Humanities Council and the V.I. Council on the Arts educate and expose the community to our rich culture.”
A student panel discussion was held on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at VICA’s office. The panel, made up of 11th and 12th graders from public, private and parochial schools, addressed the rewards and challenges of living in two cultures. The adult panel discussion, which took place on Friday, Oct. 9, also at VICA’s office, focused on the role and influence of Puerto Rican culture on the music of the Virgin Islands and vice versa. Noted musicians such as saxophonist Ira Meyers, culture bearer and percussionist Irvin “Brownie” Brown, music educator and musician Alfred “Chubby” Lockhart, saxophonist Sergio Feliciano and music instructor Leroy Trotman led the discussion and demonstration.
“Sugar Pathways,” a documentary by director Joanna Bermudez-Ruiz that traces the migration experience of Puerto Ricans to the Virgin Islands, was shown on Sunday, Oct. 11, at Reichhold Center for the Arts. Bermudez-Ruiz is a second generation Virgin Islander of Puerto Rican descent, who has also produced an award-winning piece on Vieques. A reception hosted by Gov. John deJongh and Cecile deJongh at Catharineberg Residence followed the documentary.
“The arts have a unique way of bringing people together. We celebrate and acknowledge our similarities and differences through the visual and performing arts and other forms of creative expression. I am very pleased to have been a part of the celebration of Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Friendship activities and I look forward to continued collaborations with the Humanities Council” said Betty Mahoney, executive director of VICA.
National Arts and Humanities Month was established in 1993 to encourage Americans to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives, and to begin a lifelong habit of active participation in the arts and humanities. It has become the nation’s largest collective annual celebration of the arts.
Its goals are to create a national, state and local focus on the arts and humanities through the media; to encourage the active participation of individuals, as well as arts, humanities and other interested organizations nationwide; to provide an opportunity for federal, state and local business, government and civic leaders to declare their support for the arts and humanities; and to establish a highly visible vehicle for raising public awareness about the arts and humanities.
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