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The Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund on Thursday (December 2) committed $3 million to sponsor the Ward Theatre Foundation’s Musical Extravaganza, ‘Into the Woods’.
The production, which will be staged at the Ward Theatre, Downtown Kingston starting on Boxing Day (December 26), is the adaptation of a multiple Broadway musical of the same name, written by James Lapine, with music and lyrics written by acclaimed composer Stephen Sondheim.
While presenting the offer letter to Wycliffe Bennett, Chairman of the Ward Theatre Foundation at the official launch of the production at the Pegasus Hotel Chief Executive Officer of CHASE, Billy Heaven, said that the Fund was pleased to be associated with the project.
“CHASE represents the first real opportunity for the provision of funds to support the arts and culture sector. This project, ‘Into the Woods’ falls into that category,” Mr. Heaven said.
He also informed that to date, the two-year-old Fund had approved projects valued at slightly under a billion dollars in the areas of sports development, early childhood education, health and arts and culture. Over $139 million, he added, had been allotted to the arts and culture sector.
The staging of the production at the historic theatre, which was established in 1912, is part of the ongoing efforts to revitalise the downtown Kingston area.
Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Desmond McKenzie who was on hand to endorse the Ward Foundation’s initiative to encourage increased patronage of Downtown Kingston stated, “this is our city and we must feel confident and safe to travel anywhere in it. The only way that persons will understand that it is perfectly safe to join the thousands of persons who live and commute Downtown daily, is to come out, day or night”.
He also called on corporate organisations and service clubs to lead the charge in encouraging the patronage of downtown Kingston.
“Purchase a house of tickets for your clients and staff members. Buy a block of tickets for some students or a group of children living in care-institutions, who may never have the opportunity to be exposed to the theatre. Then, come to the performance with them! Actively demonstrate your commitment to reviving Downtown Kingston in a real way,” the Mayor challenged.
Several facilities have been put in place to encourage patrons of the arts to attend this musical production. These include arranging a shuttle system for persons, who prefer to park uptown.
When purchasing a ticket at either the Ward Theatre or What’s On Caf