CHASE Hands Over $6.8 Million To Liberty Hall

The Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund Limited recently handed over $6.8 million to Liberty Hall for administrative support for two years.
Liberty Hall is yet another historical and cultural landmark that has received funding from CHASE, which last year provided financial support for the restoration of Devon House. To date, the Fund has approved $126.5 million in the area of arts and culture.
Speaking to JIS News, Billy Heaven, Chief Executive Officer of the CHASE Fund, said that the Fund was pleased to be associated with the restoration and the development of Liberty Hall, as it was a centre of national significance.
“As you know, Liberty Hall is not only a cultural centre, but it is one for education, transformation and development in the community,” the CEO said, noting that the Fund’s interest in culture and the arts made the response to the request for funding by Liberty Hall, very favourable.
The CHASE Fund, said Mr. Heaven, also regarded the sustainability of Liberty Hall as of extreme importance, and would be providing support with the creation of a business plan to be completed in three months.
He noted that currently, the Fund was in the process of engaging the services of a consultant to develop the strategic business plan outlining fund-raising, decision making procedures and marketing possibilities, among other activities.
“Even if Liberty Hall is not sustainable on its own income stream, certainly CHASE wants to know what is required to achieve this. We at CHASE hope to be further involved in the process, because we hope to combine our business, management and technical skills with those of the persons who are there as well as those of the Friends of Liberty Hall,” Mr. Heaven explained.
“We want to make it into an entrepreneurial centre so that in turn, it can provide business training, skills and other things for the community in and around the area,” the CEO added.
Donna McFarlane, Director/Curator of Liberty Hall, told JIS News that the financial support received from CHASE, went a long way in the development of Liberty Hall.
“We wrote a proposal to CHASE and they came through with $6.8 million, which we have used to upgrade our administrative staff, which has a complement of 5, three professionals, guard and an office helper,” she noted.
The Curator said that Liberty Hall was abuzz with activities during Black History Month (February), which kicked off with a poetry reading by famed local poet, Lorna Goodison. It was well received, and there are plans to make it an annual event, the Curator said.
Miss McFarlane noted that for February, the Hall hosted a series of lectures commencing with well-known Garveyvite, Professor Rupert Lewis. The series will conclude with a presentation on Haiti by Dr. Matthew Smith on February 29.
Having officially opened its doors on National Heroes Day in October last year, Liberty Hall has been embraced by both the surrounding community and visitors to Jamaica alike.
“The support of Liberty Hall has been wonderful. First of all, the community supports us very much. People off the street come in and express their delight at having the building restored. The children in the community come in for computer classes and we teach them skills through a programme called Techno Garvey,” Miss McFarlane said.
More than 42 children attend the computer classes held on Tuesdays, utilizing the seven computers available. An additional seven computers, she noted, were needed to ease the situation as it related to the ratio of students to computers.
At present, no fee is required to visit Liberty Hall. However, this will soon change with the installation of the multi media museum, which will enhance its capability by the showing of films, as well as through touch screens, each with three to four hours of information. In light of the impending improvements, the Curator disclosed that the facility would extend opening days to include the weekend.
“We have acquired the screen and we are in the process of installing it. Hopefully, two of the touch screens will be installed by August, and the rest by the end of the year,” she said.
Miss McFarlane is also appealing for more volunteers to assist the facility in terms of time. “We need them to come in and help us put in place other outreach programmes, like reading and an after-school homework programme. We also want to start a chess club,” she added.
Liberty Hall was the name given to several spaces established by National Hero, Marcus Garvey for the development and processing of ideas for intellectual and spiritual upliftment and as shrines of ‘Negro inspiration and the cradle of Negro Liberation’.
One such Hall was founded and constructed by Garvey in 1923 on King Street in downtown Kingston to function as the headquarters of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).
Liberty Hall was restored at a cost of some $18 million by the Government and Friends of Liberty Hall, in collaboration with the National Heritage Trust, the Institute of Jamaica and the Kingston Restoration Company.

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