FRC and Cultural Centre up for Renovations

WHILE saying that government intends to upgrade some of the island’s national events facilities, Minister for Tourism and the Creative Industries Dr Ernest Hilaire, disclosed that a draft proposal has been requested for reconstruction of the Folk Research Centre (FRC) Headquarters.

The FRC was destroyed by fire in March 2018, and since then a campaign was launched to raise funds for rehabilitation of the structure.

Commenting on the status of the FRC, the minister said, “I am supposed to receive a proposal from the Folk Research Centre Board, either next week or the week after with the proposal.”

During his first budget presentation, he said, Prime Minister Philip J Pierre allocated a sum of money for the FRC to prepare a plan for a new building for the FRC and I think they have completed the plan of what needs to be done and I will receive it shortly.

Dr Hilaire added, “I’m excited about it and I think we need a building for the FRC, certainly it’s not at the scale of the National Cultural Centre, so it’s a lot smaller undertaking and government has expressed its support to the FRC to make sure it has a headquarters.”

The FRC was established in 1973 as a repository for cultural heritage, a vehicle for research, study, recording and promulgating Saint Lucia’s rich heritage.

FRC before and after the fire

The facility, before it was gutted by fire, housed an extensive library of publications, audio visual recordings and photographs and is the major study centre for work carried out into Saint Lucia’s folk culture by both nationals and visiting researchers and students.

Minister Hilaire said a lot of historical artifacts about Saint Lucia were lost in the fire and it was very painful and we need to make sure that we have an FRC that is capable of recording our history and to be able to preserve it and safeguard it for future generations.

Speaking to reporters at a recent media briefing, the minister said currently renovations are being made to the Cultural Centre at Barnard Hill. He informed that the Cultural Centre was closed for repairs and the Taiwanese Embassy donated a cheque to facilitate the works.

We need a National Cultural Centre in Saint Lucia and I’ve had discussion on it. We’ve had plans earlier for a National Cultural Centre and it’s something that this government intends to pursue at some point, said Hilaire.

The minister stated that at one time, former Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony “was very advanced in the planning for one to be built at Choc, above the Caribbean Cinemas, but I’m not sure that is still available.”

Hilaire contends that some ‘creatives’ or artists argue that the Cultural Centre should remain in its original location, at Barnard Hill. On the other hand he said, other persons propose to look for a site that has more space for parking and other ancillary services.

The minister said that the debate still goes on about the proposed location for a centre and the financing of it.

“Any modern centre with 1,000 seats is still small and we need now to think of an even bigger venue,” said Hilaire.

“But, a modern centre with all the services for 1,000 persons is already $20 million so, if we’re talking about building a facility with 3,000 seats, or at least expandable to 3,000 seats, it is a costly matter,” he added.

In addition, the minister said, one would have to factor in the maintenance of the facility. As a small country, the maintenance of its facilities is always a challenge, he said.

Hilaire said maintenance of facilities such as the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground [DSCG], Mindoo Phillip Park and the Vigie Sports Complex takes a lot resources.

“So, if you want to have world-class facilities, you have to make significant investments and be prepared to spend a lot of money maintaining it,” he said.

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