MAC continues to create a network that aids museums and cultural organizations across the Caribbean to share and benefit from their common skills and experiences.
The Museums Association of the Caribbean (MAC) has partnered with the National Gallery of the Bahamas (NAGB), Central Bank of the Bahamas (CBB), the Antiquities Monuments and Museums Corporation (AAMC), and the University of the Bahamas (UB) to host the 32nd Annual MAC Conference in Nassau, Bahamas, March 1-5, 2023. This is the first time the conference will be hosted in The Bahamas in the history of MAC. The Bahamas’ diverse cultural landscape and variety of artistic and cultural offerings make it an ideal location for the 2023 conference. In addition, Nassau has a great variety of heritage museums, historical sites, and art museums and galleries, making it a fitting and relevant backdrop for the conference’s discussions this year. The 2023 conference theme, The Power of Museums: Relevancy, Advocacy, Transformation, will provide opportunities for sharing the changes in the museum field since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Presenters will explore how museums and cultural heritage sites have, and must now continue to question, how their role is evolving alongside the world surrounding us. How have, and can, museums stay relevant, advocate for change, and provide transformative experiences for visitors and communities? MAC and the conference’s host venues, NAGB, CBB, AAMC, and UB, all look forward to seeing museum and heritage site professionals coming together and discussing these topics, representing different institutions, geographies, backgrounds, and perspectives. The conference welcomes professionals from museums, cultural heritage sites, libraries, archives, historical societies, universities, and other cultural organizations. For additional information about the conference, visit https://caribbeanmuseums.com/macbahamas2023/registration.php.
Cultural Chat with one of the conference’s presenters- Marie Vickles-Director of Education at Perez Art Museum
Tell us about your background in the arts.
I have worked in the field for over 20 years as an educator, curator, and community organizer – this is my work as a cultural practitioner. However, I have always considered myself an artist, as making and creating visual work has been something I have done since I was a young child. After secondary school, I studied the commercial aspects of design and worked in New York as a textile designer while continuing to pursue a visual arts practice. Upon moving to Florida, 18 years ago, I became reinvested in art education, returned to higher education, and pursued a degree in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences with a focus on education, specifically Arts Education.
You are set to speak at The Museums Association of the Caribbean (MAC) conference next month in Nassau, Bahamas. Please share with us the focus of your presentation.
Our presentation and hands-on workshop will include fellow educators and me from the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Anita Braham, Darwin Rodrigue, and Yeimi Valdes. We will present a selection of our community-centric programs developed that serve a cross-section of audiences ranging from adults to youth, including intergenerational and family audiences and especially audiences typically considered “non-traditional” due to economic, educational, or other demographic markers that have created systemic barriers.
The collaborative aspects of how these programs have been developed will be shared and explored – showing both the successes and challenges of this intentional work. Special consideration and thought will be given to address the unique needs, resources, and realities of institutions operating across the Caribbean – especially in terms of access to funding, community/audience engagement, and governmental/philanthropic support. In this presentation, the importance of community building in non-traditional spaces outside of the organization and meeting the community where they are will be further explored and demonstrated as successful paths for engaging the community in long-term and sustainable ways.
The second half of the presentation will invite conference attendees to participate in hands-on exercises and idea mapping to provide space for communal sharing, feedback, and support of the participating attendees’ current projects and programmatic goals.
What do you think or how do you see the future of arts and museums in the Caribbean?
I see the future of arts and museums in the Caribbean as leading the way in how contemporary art speaks to the history of our region – and the world at large. The Caribbean in many ways, represents our collective futures of how to survive and thrive in places that are challenging to live in due to environmental factors, the ever-present socio-economic issues due to systemic racism stemming from the industrialization of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the ongoing challenges and lack of recognition to the indigenous populations of the Caribbean. These very important and complicated issues are being addressed, studied, and presented throughout the various art and cultural institutions across the region. Museums and cultural institutions influence our educational systems, both formal and informal, and the knowledge of our past, present and possible futures is critical to the growth of a successful society.
Have you ever been to the Bahamas? If yes, what are some of the things you are looking forward to doing again, and if no, what are some of the things you hope to do or see?
I have never been to the Bahamas, which is a bit wild considering how close it is to Miami! I am really looking forward to visiting and seeing as much as I can see…and I hope this is the first of many times – I have heard wonderful things about the Bahamas, and I am so looking forward to this trip. I am interested in visiting museums, artist studios, and more!
What do you hope the MAC conference accomplishes?
I hope this conference helps to bring together and deepen networks of support between the cultural workers of our region. We have so much to share and learn from one another – as well as all the ways that we can help our region and field contribute to the social and cultural needs of our community.
About Marie Vickles
Marie Vickles is the Director of Education at the Pérez Art Museum Miami and administers programs at the museum that directly serve over 100,000 youth and adults annually. Marie has organized arts educational programs and exhibitions across the United States and the Caribbean for over 20 years. She is currently the Curator-in-Residence at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex and maintains an active practice as an independent curator. In her work as an arts educator and cultural practitioner, she is concerned with the relationship between creativity and community engagement – with the goal of supporting equity, sustainability, and access for all through the arts.