Feb. 10, 2003 – A new arts center opened Friday at The Courtyard in Smith Bay. The Nelson Mandela Arts Center, located across from the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort, features cultural art exhibits and demonstrations from ethnic artists.
At festivities on Sunday night marking the center's opening, artist Dalton Weekes celebrated his birthday and works by Weekes, Lisa Black and Anita de la Cruz were showcased.
The center, which is under the management of Nanci and Alfredo Prince of Image Research & Communications, a global network, is open daily from noon to 8 p.m.
"We're just expanding," Nanci Prince said. The Courtyard also is home to the couple's Ninth Life Art Gallery and Alfredo's Bistro.
Prince said the center was established to promote West Indian art, something she said seems to be lacking in the territory. It has been named in honor of Nelson Mandela because of his fight against apartheid in South Africa. "You have a 90 percent African-descent population and less than 3 percent of art is by natives," Prince said. "That's art apartheid."
Tourists have a hard time finding local art, Prince said, and she hopes the center will be a place where visitors can see the work of locals.
The center also will feature ethnic dancing, singing and textile demonstrations, Prince said. "It's more than just an arts center, it's a cultural center," she said.
All of the services to artists will be free of charge, she said, and artists and art organizations also will be assisted in applying for grants.
"I hope that African-descendant people of the Virgin Islands will take their rightful place as the true exporters of the arts," Prince said.
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