Changes at the VAS

The Visual Arts Society of the Cayman Islands has recently undergone a change in Board membership, embracing new energy which has revitalised this bastion of the Cayman arts scene. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull speaks with the new Board members and reports.

Who are the Board members of the VAS?
Dora Williams – Chairman, Trevor Lloyd – Treasurer, Shirley Scott – Secretary, Ivan Burgess – Business Director, Avril Ward – Event Organiser, Nisha Bismillah – PR & Media Relations

Why has the board been reshuffled?
The Board has not been reshuffled, but rather after many years, three long-serving members have stepped down either to pursue other interests or due to personal commitments. Nisha, who has been an active volunteer for both the National Gallery for many years and recently to VAS, was appointed to the board earlier this year, and at the VAS AGM in April, she and the other returning five members were reappointed.
What we have done differently is to restructure some of the Board’s responsibilities to meet the needs of our new and changing agenda. As such, Dora has taken over from Pat Nicholson in the role of Chairman, Avril has taken on the role of Event Organiser, and Shirley, Ivan and Trevor have remained in their positions.

What are the main priorities for the new Board?
The main priority of the VAS, as reflected by our tag line, is to make art available for everyone on the Island. In reaching this objective, the VAS is offering as many art courses as possible covering a variety of genres and techniques, for all levels of ability, including some for children. In addition, the VAS is organising a number of exhibits, shows and open studios at Watler House and other venues on the Island, and working with the National Gallery with some new ideas to complement the NG’s many excellent programmes.

Tell us about the VAS’s fundraising and awareness campaign.
The VAS will always welcome donations, but it is a non-profit, non-government organisation. All money raised through memberships and courses is utitlised to make the VAS self-sufficient and independent, and every member is also a volunteer. As such, there is no active fund-raising.
With the new logo created by Avril, a very pro-active agenda, and a new website developed by one of our volunteers and the Board, the VAS is continually introducing and reintroducing itself to the general public.
In addition, thanks to the Tourist Association Board (TAB), we have found a home in the beautiful Watler House at Pedro Castle, and welcome visitors and artists alike to either make use of our facilities, or just drop in to see what we are doing.

What types of events to you have in upcoming months?
The VAS had a number of things on the go at the moment and exciting events planned for the future. These include:
Open Studio – every Thursday morning, Watler House is open to all members to pursue their art*
Monday painting workshops with instruction from Avril Ward*
Weekly ceramic classes with Cecilia Urdaneta due to the purchase of new kiln (see below)*
Art markets – exhibition and sale of local artists’ works
“Seasonal Featured Artists Programme” – 4 different members will be chosen for 3 month periods as the “seasonal artist”
Body-painting event to be held at the National Gallery
Upcoming workshops in glass fusion, landscape and figurative painting, and pastel classes. These will be held on weekday mornings, weekends, and new evening sessions to accommodate working members
* denotes events already in progress

Any other new events or happenings?
Prior to Hurricane Ivan, the VAS had offered clay classes for several years. Unfortunately, Ivan destroyed the VAS premises at the Eucalyptus Building and the kiln and clay pots were lost.
In 2007, the VAS was fortunate to secure a new home at Watler House, and the possibility of obtaining a new kiln was realised. Thanks to the enthusiasm and drive of the previous Chairman, Pat, and former board member Valerie, coupled with the generosity of architect Malcolm Stephenson and the support of the TAB, a small Cayman style building known as the caboose was completed this year, and a brand new state-of-the art kiln was installed.



VAS Board members l-r. Back row: Trevor Lloyd, Nisha Bismillah, Ivan Burgess. Front Row: Shirley Scott, Avril Ward and Dora Williams