PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten —Arlene Halley, co-Director of National Institute of the Arts (NIA), was among six persons who were inducted into the Order of Orange Nassau during this year’s King’s Day celebration at Fort Amsterdam.
Halley, who along with Clara Reyes, guides St. Maarten’s newest performing arts institution NIA, became a Member in the Order of Orange Nassau as a result of her years of dedication and work in the fields of education, arts and culture.
For Halley, news of the induction came as a complete surprise.
“I was astonished really, but I was also completely elated. What was really interesting to read was the documentation that was involved with the process; the recommendations and the supporting letters that went in. Reading through all of that was like reading a resume of my life. It gave me new perspective on my contributions to education, youth and dance. When you are doing things, you know, often you do them not because you are looking for any rewards or acknowledgments; you do them because they are your passion or because you know that it is in the best interest of young people and of your island, so to read through and reflect on my journey from other people's perspectives was quite fascinating," Halley said.
Halley said she was thrilled to be a part of the entire King’s Day celebration, the first of its kind in over a century. She said that this year’s event, honoring a king instead of a queen for the first time in 123 years, signaled the fact that change and continuity can go hand and hand. Halley’s careers in art and education have also been one of transformations and adjustments, though anchored in her steadfast devotion to her love of the arts. She said that this induction has only strengthened her desire to remain on her path.
"It is just added motivation to continue doing what I have been doing over the years and now with this new vehicle that is NIA. At NIA we aim to lay the strongest foundation of excellence in culture and arts, so that future generations can both look back and enjoy what we did, but also immerse themselves in the various forms of arts and continue to build on what we have developed. That is central to our mission and I think that this induction acknowledges not only the kind of work that I have done, but also the work that we are doing and will continue to do," Halley said.
Halley said that she was extremely pleased to hear the governor reiterate his support for the creation of a national centre for the performing arts during his address.
“It is important that the performing arts continue to develop into the future and in order to ensure this we must provide a physical space where performance artists can go and exhibit their talents, the skills they have honed in classes and so on. So to hear the governor again acknowledge the need for such was very powerful,” Halley said.
She said that she wanted to thank those who had nominated her and who had submitted supporting letters on her behalf.
“Reading through those beautiful words really touched me and I am honored, not only by the induction, or its ceremony, but also by the people who think so highly of my contribution to arts and education on St. Maarten,” Halley said.