For many, art and arbitration may not always go together, but to those who attended the British Virgin Islands International Arbitration Centre on December 15, it was a perfect match--just add cabernet sauvignon and Ferrero chocolate.
“At the BVI IAC, we proudly work with a number of local artists and we give them the opportunity to showcase their work, which allows both local and international clients the chance to experience the BVI through art and for the artists to get that level of exposure,” said Centre Manager Janette Brin.
Photographer Khari Adams, painters Christine Taylor and Kezzia Jones, were among the dozen artists who displayed their work as violinist Carol Schoonhoven played and visitors enjoyed wine, provided by supporting sponsor Road Town Wholesale, and hors d’oeuvres.
Added CEO Francois Lassalle: “Our target market is not the BVI, it’s the Americas, Europe and Asia and abroad. But we want to engage with the hearts and minds of the local people; The IAC’s goal is to always have a rotating display of new art.”
One artist, Tiara Jones, is just 18 and a recent graduate from Cedar International School. She said her art teacher told her displaying her boldly-colored oil painting at the BVI IAC would be a fantastic way to get exposure--not only locally, but internationally. She said the chance to exhibit her work at the BVI IAC would inspire her to continue to pursue art and give her more confidence. “Now my main focus is going to be experimenting and trying new things.”
The IAC event brought together both the older and younger generations of BVI artists. Another in attendance, Joseph Hodge is one of the premier artists of the BVI and has been painting for close to 50 years. He said his bright abstract paintings “represent the chaos in modern society.” Other work by him hang throughout the centre.
Considering mere months have past since Hurricane Irma damaged much of the territory, Ms. Brin said it was especially important to host such an event to bring the community together and demonstrate that the IAC is open for business. “We wanted to do something before Hurricane Irma, but Christmas presented the perfect opportunity,” she said.
Mr. Lasalle explained that despite the setbacks from Irma, the BVI IAC remains the only arbitration centre in the region, and that the BVI’s modern Arbitration Act, a strong legal framework and the stable political environment of the British Overseas Territory will continue to be attractive to those around the world. In fact, the centre is expecting several cases early next year. “People will still come here. We are on our way to being a leading arbitration hub.”
“I think Irma scared a few people,” he added. “But I went to arbitration conferences in Atlanta and Miami, and everyone had heard about Irma. They all knew about us. We gained a certain brand recognition. They were amazed by our story, and they went to our website to find out more about us.”
“It created an emotional link,” he added. “It created a community around us.”
Ms. Brin explained that all of the art is available for sale, but that the centre does not make a profit. Artists are asked to donate 5 percent of profits to charity; on Friday, the designated organisation was the Youth Empowerment Project in East End.
“We’re excited about this; it is our first event, definitely not the last. We expect for this to catch on as BVI as a whole gets back to normal and people return,” said Ms. Brin. “We look forward to welcoming them back to experience the art here.”
Select pieces of artwork displayed at the Centre can also be viewed online.