Culture Minister Dr Ernest Hilaire is hoping that come next year the island will be blessed with a new National Cultural Center (NCC).
The minister this week said that he is in talks with the Taiwanese government regarding the construction of the new NCC.
Hilaire also mentioned that the Taiwanese are keen on assisting in the development of a new building.
“We intend to build a National Cultural Centre; it is something I have done a lot of research on and I’ve actually spoken to the Taiwanese government about it because the initial discussions started off with them. There’s a deep interest in assisting Saint Lucia in getting a Cultural Centre, and we will, as we continue to work,” Hilaire told reporters Monday.
According to Hilaire, this year government’s emphasis will be on infrastructure and that will include the upgrading of roads, bridges as well as certain facilities.
“I’m hoping the year after will be the year for the Orange Economy so we can start raising the level of priority for some of those items,” Hilaire said.
In an interview with THE VOICE yesterday, a representative from the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) said a new and improved venue would be welcomed in artistic circles.
“The artistic community is clamouring for a Cultural Centre, that dialogue started years ago,” the CDF spokesperson said, adding that the NCC is limited in capacity.
Representatives from CDF met with “the then Taiwanese ambassador and a contingent from Taiwan years ago. We had a discussion and they had artistic impressions of what they thought would have been ideal. They met with a lot of the members from the artistic community to discuss what their needs were: what sort of facility would be necessary, even the seating capacity; whether it would be a multipurpose cultural centre that could be used for a multiplicity of activities,” the representative said.
The CDF source added that, “At the time that was the thinking. I know there has been constant dialogue about it. They have looked at a number of sites for the facility but that has not been finalised. I’m sure the artistic community would be very elated to know that the dialogue is reopening again and that there is still the hope that we will have a facility. As it is right now, the cultural centre is the only facility though it may not be the best, it is outfitted with the amenities where you can have a decent production, but I think we can do much better.”
According to CDF’s representative, “I am happy that the minster is approaching it and he’s contacting counterparts out of Saint Lucia to explore the possibility. It warms our heart that there is still that interest and the possibility of a cultural facility being erected. I think that would be the answer to a lot of the artistic community’s prayers as well as the staff of the Cultural Development Foundation.”
A new structure is important, the spokesperson added, as initially, “the intent was a temporary facility; if you look at some of the events that are happening they organizers are clamouring for spaces. Sometimes, as an organization, we have to turn people away because the place is already booked. You need somewhere that has a decent seating capacity, stage, and the amenities; it’s necessary.”
CDF’s website noted that the NCC measures 145.5’ x 68.5’ and seats approximately 700 people with a combination of moveable and non – moveable seating; the stage is approximately 27’ wide x 26’ deep.
The National Cultural Centre is Saint Lucia’s premiere auditorium for cultural performances, concerts, theatre, dance and musicals. It can also be used for presentations, seminars, workshops and convocation ceremonies. The centre hosts approximately 200 activities annually attended by a combined audience of about 6,000, CDF noted.
Further, “users have access to two dressing rooms with washroom facilities, mirrors and clothes racks; amenities that are not available at other venues in Saint Lucia. The newly installed four stand-alone air conditioning units provide comfort for patrons, complimented by a central air conditioning unit for large crowd events. In January 2014, the NCC was retrofitted with attractive new cushioned chairs ensuring comfortable seating for patrons.”