Money donated to the Heritage Dancers group was used some 20 years ago, after securing a piece of land, to start a building for the group to comfortably conduct cultural activities. Two decades later; however, the building remains incomplete.
One of the founding members of Heritage Dancers and a former Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Eileene L. Parsons, OBE, has issued a strong public appeal to the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) government led by Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1) to once and for all complete the building, which she said will be of benefit not only to the Heritage Dancers.
“One group is already asking me to use it, when it is finished, to keep meetings. Please help us finish it. I mean, I don't know from where but sometimes you all find some money that you don't have any for, put [it] in the Heritage Dancers’ building,” Ms Parsons stated.
Ms Parsons made the appeal last Saturday, November 2, 2019 at the Festival of Arts held in honour of the late local Cultural Icon Hon Delores Lettsome-Christopher. Ms Parsons was one of several who were on that day honoured for their part played in keeping the history and culture of the territory alive.
Speaking after being presented with a plaque by three Ministers of Government, Ms Parsons said the building belonged to the 40-year old group and not just her as an individual. The Ministers who did the honours were Acting Premier Honourable Kye M. Rymer (R5), Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) and Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Carvin Malone (AL).
‘I couldn’t get any gov’t to finish that building’
Continuing her appeal, Ms Parsons said: “I have been in and out of governments, including being Deputy Chief Minister, and I couldn't get any government to finish that building for us, which will not be ours but the community. Minister Wheatley, my favourite politician all of a sudden, Acting Premier, Honourable Rymer, my friend Honorable Carvin Malone to whom I owe $50 for stupid bet, but I am serious with this, [I am] asking you all to please help us, help us finish that building. It could be used for after school programmes.”
Hon Wheatley in the background responded, “We will, we will.”
‘We need members’
Ms Parsons also made a second appeal, this time for persons to join the Heritage Dancers group. “I am especially appealing today to the young and not so young, because we need members if the group is to continue, if its life is to be lengthened. We need members,” Ms Parsons said, adding that the group meets twice a week.
Acknowledging the emergence of other dance groups around the territory, Ms Parsons underscored the importance of the Heritage Dancers. “Yes we have other dance groups formed in the territory, but the Heritage Dancers perform at dances, most of them our ancestors brought out of Africa, and so it is a special joy to me. I no longer perform with them, but I am the beggar every August to get the float on the ground.”
She credited the late legislator and cultural icon Delores Lettsome-Christopher for paving the way for the group to perform in other countries.
“The first person who took us out of here to Antigua was Mrs Delores Christopher, who operated a trade show in Antigua on behalf of the BVI,” Ms Parsons recalled.