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‘Fishing’ For Consideration

Image of George “Fish” Alphonse [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]

FOR the love of the home of the arts, one local activist is taking a different approach to getting the Prime Minister to hear his plight. He is begging for consideration.

George “Fish” Alphonse contacted The VOICE and other media outlets asking that his plea be made public to show Prime Minister Allen Chastanet that he is not too proud to beg for the cause.

Image of George “Fish” Alphonse [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]
George “Fish” Alphonse [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]

Following the announcement that the National Cultural Centre (NCC) is to be relocated to a temporary location and its original home replaced with a courthouse, the arts community in St. Lucia has been in uproar over the decision which they have called “insensitive”, “callous” and “vindictive”.

Since the announcement, they have rallied together to generate dialogue between themselves and the government as well as formulate plans to thwart the proposed project.

But Alphonse, who has been noticeably more vocal than other activists, has been disheartened by the government’s unwavering and uncompromising stance on the matter.

Upon noticing this, he has decided to appeal to the Prime Minister’s softer side by penning him a letter, begging him to reconsider the project which, he says, serves to only hinder and hurt rather than help.

Below is Alphonse’s letter to the Prime Minister:

“Dear Sir,
“My name is George ‘Fish’ Alphonse, graduate of the Jamaica School of Drama, Cultural Training Centre. I am an Actor, Director, Story Teller, Writer, a former Traditional Arts Officer of the Department of Culture and former Special Events Officer at the Cultural Development Foundation. I have been involved with the Arts for forty two (42) years.

“On the beautiful morning of February 22nd, 1979, Independence Day, a new beginning, Sir John (Compton), in his Independence address, told the nation that he had found a home for the arts, which was his Independence gift to the nation and was conveniently located at Barnard Hill, a five-minute walk from the city of Castries.

“After much consultation with the artistic community, Roddy and Derek Walcott, Sir Dunstan St. Omer, Hunter J. Francois, Arthur Jacob, Kenneth Monplaisir, George Odlum, Secra Gibson, Mc Donald Dixon, Jacques Compton, Dame Lawrence Laurent, Patricia Charles and Ruth Theobalds unanimously agreed on Barnard Hill (being) ideal. Sir, the artistic community celebrated, felt liberated — finally a home for the arts.

“Through the efforts of the then Director of Culture, Jacques Compton, and Sir John, the French Government dedicated the National Cultural Centre as a gift to the artistic community of Saint Lucia on the February 18, 1989 in commemoration of our 10th anniversary of Independence. We were grateful. Sir John concluded that it would be a temporary structure and that he was looking forward to the day when he could build a state-of-the-art National Cultural Centre on these grounds at Barnard Hill.

“The closest we came to this dream, through the efforts of the late George Odlum, (was that) the Chinese Government promised to build the National Cultural Centre, one of four gifts to the nation. The Chinese agreed that Barnard Hill (was) ideal. As fate would have it, we moved from China to Taiwan. There goes the National Cultural Centre!

“Over the years, we brought our poetry, plays, songs, music, drums, dance, lacomet and violin, pageants, calypso. We bless this place, we love this place — that’s all we ever knew (as) home, despite the condition, hoping one day this temporary structure will become permanent with a state-of-the-art facility.

“Sir, we also share the Cultural Centre with the schools in the Castries area. They walk to the Centre for Junior Calypso, Junior Panorama, St. Mary’s College Talfest, St. Lucia School of Ballet, Silver Shadow Dance Academy, CDF Summer Arts Programme, and school graduations. The preschools in the area use the grounds for their sports meet. Parents all agree that Barnard Hill is ideal.

“Sir, it is said that one must have an open mind and with my open mind, I visited the site being proposed. There is no way my mind is closed, but I am convinced even more now that Barnard Hill truly is ideal.

“Sir, you don’t need any study, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Sir, take my advice, the cost of moving to a temporary site could cost as much as building a brand new Cultural Centre on the present site.

“Sir, in the name of Sir John Compton, Roddy and Derek Walcott, Jacques Compton, Frank Norville, Athanasius Laborde, Sixtus Charles, Virgie Alexander, George Odlum, Hunter Francois, Louis George, I beg you, Sir, please leave the Cultural Centre on its present site. The potential for the arts at this location is endless.

“Sir, we have been in this business long enough to know what’s best for the arts. Sir, that move could be the final nail in the arts’ coffin. Sir, trust me, Barnard Hill is ideal.

“Hoping, Sir, sometime soon, we can meet and greet over coffee, tea, or Piton, in discussion on the long-overdue state-of-the-art new Cultural Centre at Barnard Hill — ideal.”

Respectfully,

George “Fish” Alphonse, SLMM (Gold)

The letter was sent in by Alphonse on Thursday afternoon. He said he has his fingers crossed that he can get through to the nation’s leader and get a speedy and favourable response.

4 Comments

  1. As an artist, I support George “Fish” Alphonse’s appeal 100% and more!! In my opinion (not humble), Barnard Hill is ideal in more ways than none, and as he articulated in his letter to the PM.

    The newly proposed relocation site, makes the St Lucian artistic community seem like a pariah!! A disease to be hidden away!! A detention area!! Just think of “behind God’s back”! Also, it has been recorded quite a few times, from quite a few studies which have been done on other locations around Castries – that the consensus comes back that the Barnard Hill location as ideal; in area, in accessibility, in ambience …

    Fish, I am more than ready to fight with you. I have already penned a “Part 2” of an article I wrote for the newspapers in 2010 (when this ugliness first raised its ridiculous head) entitled “The Gods Must Be Crazy”. Depending on the outcome of this latest absurdity, the new title will be; “The New Gods Are Even More Crazy” … presently it is being fine tuned for printing. I know my battered body will be found floating in the Castries harbour for my comments – but what the hell!!

    So, Fish, pwen chere … you have support. I sincerely hope it grows in numbers.

  2. ……”Cultural Center Relocation Best Thing to Happen”…Carlton Ishmael, The Voice 07/01/2017…….George,…read that piece!

  3. it is rather strange that fish would be taking that position now
    when he fish alphonse was part of a team who was commissioned to look for an alternative site afew years ago a number of sites were looked at including cul de sac there was no objection then the question is why now
    fish is well aware of the short commings of the present site especially the saftey of patrons and kids who venture there
    fish is aware of the many thief that takes place there the number of hold up the number of times vehicles have been broken in
    but then again we have an agenda

  4. I applaud George Fish Alphonse’s humility but I will say dead frankly that I am not about to join him—or anyone else—in that begging crusade. It has been noted elsewhere that the prime minister is irreconcilably glued to his position, like the Pitons are a fixture on the Soufriere/Choiseul landscape. I am not prepared to take to pen nor keyboard nor paper nor the streets, except if the latter is a groundswell of popular action for the removal of the regime which the prime minister heads. It is past time prime ministers and governments understand the hard way that it is the people’s will and not their Cabinet vision—however grand—that ought to predominate, in a democracy, at least.

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