PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – “It truly takes a village,” said Nicole De Weever, Founder of Art Saves Lives Foundation as she reflects on the end of another summer program.
De Weever said she is humbled and proud that the village supported the 2022 edition of Art Saves Lives Summer Intensive, which closed to a full house at the Philipsburg Cultural Centre on Saturday, July 9, 2022. The audience was treated to energetic performances from the dancers, drummers, vocalists and more.
This year, there were three programs happening simultaneously across the island. The Summer Intensive took place at National Institute of Art – NIA studio spaces and INDISU Dance Theater of St. Maarten. There was a Community Outreach on French St. Martin and a Music & Youth Orchestra program held at the John Larmonie Centre.
Dancer Naomi Warsop called the experience “amazing.” Warsop, who is preparing to study dance full time in the US this September, took ballet, vocal, contemporary dance, visual arts, West African dance, cultural dance, musical theatre, and hip hop.
“This experience was like no other. Waking up at 6am, having breakfast at 7am, beginning my lengthy day at 8am, then finishing at 7pm and I did this for five days straight,” shared Warsop on her social media.
Richelda Emmanuel participated with her daughter, Amalia in the week of creative activities. “This was a wonderful experience. Amalia participated from Monday to Friday from 7am to 7pm and Saturday from 1pm to 11pm they had stage rehearsals and performances. Mommy enjoyed herself wining and jumping during the awesome one and a half hour of afrosoca class for adults.”
A total of 180 young people and adults were able to learn from 24 international instructors. This was well over the initial target of 90 students, that De Weever and her team initially planned for.
“I really don’t like to turn people away. We initially budgeted for 70 students for the intensive and 20 for the orchestra. But we had 96 for the intensive and 12 for the Music & Youth Orchestra. The Community Outreach on the French side went up to 47 students. The others were adult participants and on some days we went above the 180 mark. It was a miracle how we were able to accommodate so many more,” De Weever shared. “The instructors donate their time each year and this generosity is matched by the people of St. Maarten/St. Martin. It is a village I am proud to be a part of.”
At the final tally, it was the donations from dozens of sponsors, gofundme contributors and more than 50 volunteers who made the week a success.
Valérie Damaseau, of the St. Martin Council said, “I had the chance to assist, with my colleague territorial councilor Audrey Gil, at one activity and to see so much positive energy confirmed how arts program can empower our youth.”
The foundation said in-kind contributions from many local companies helped to defray the costs of the activities. A laboratory donated PCR tests for the delegation from the LEAP – The Learning & Empowerment through the Arts Program of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“Whether it was a community member sponsoring cakes or a hardware store giving us paint. Everyone’s contribution helped us to make this program happen,” De Weever, who is a former Broadway dancer shared.
Corporate and community sponsors have already begun to make commitments for next year’s event. Mrs. Asha Stevens has gifted ASLF the Christian Hillside School Auditorium for 2023. De Weever said this will enable them to expand the program so more young people in that community can take part.
“We are taking some time to assess this year’s event and then we will begin planning for 2023. It really isn’t possible to express with adequate words what it has meant to have so many people and organizations believe in the mission of Art Saves Lives Foundation. It is truly a blessing that we can share this gift of art with the people of St. Maarten and the other islands nearby who have joined us in this journey.”
There are lots of videos and photos of the 2022 Art Saves Lives Foundation Summer Intensive on their Facebook page.
To learn more about the event and how you can support the arts, visit www.artsaveslivesfoundation.org.
Photos by Edgardo Lynch of E2Photography
Source: GMediaPR – goldenmediallc.com