On September 18, 2017, Category 5 Hurricane Maria caused widespread devastation to the Commonwealth of Dominica. The Dominica Institute for the Arts and the only dance studio in the country, was not spared. The building housing the dance studio suffered significant flooding and structural damages to the roof, wooden floor, lights, and mirrored walls. This has left multiple dance groups and dance students preparing for final exams without a suitable place to practice, preventing dance education and culture from providing opportunities, enrichment, and empowerment. As the vast majority of dance students that learned in this studio were girls, this loss inordinately affects the female youth population, leaving them with less athletic and artistic opportunities for physical and emotional development than their male counterparts. The goal of this project is to repair the dance studio by August 2018, so that it may be used to hold classes, trainings, and rehearsals that empower young people once again. Once construction is completed, local dance teachers will be invited to participate in a “Girls Empowerment Through Dance” workshop at the dance studio to learn to address local needs relating to female physical and mental health, goal-setting, and self-esteem through dance education. Following this workshop, teachers will incorporate these empowering lessons for girls into their dance classes throughout the month of September for “Girls Empowerment Month”.
Community cash and in-kind donations to this project reach $20,313.17. The Cultural Division has committed to contributing to this project by funding repairs to the roof, ceiling, and electrical issues in the dance studio building, as well as by providing the project implementation committee. The committee includes Cultural Officers responsible for overseeing all construction and liaising with contractors during the first phase of the project-construction. It also includes Dominica Institute for the Arts staff and tutors responsible for workshop design, schedule, outreach, and facilitation during the second and third phases of the project- the “Girls Empowerment Through Dance” workshop and the “Girls Empowerment Month”, respectively.