Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, has lauded the financial contributions from various public- and private-sector entities for the restoration of the Ward Theatre.
She noted that support has come from the Ward Theatre Foundation, Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC), and the Tourism Enhancement Fund, among others.
Minister Grange was speaking at a ceremony held this morning (May 23) at the downtown Kingston-based facility to mark the official start of proceedings for Labour Day 2017.
She said the Government is working to have the facility operational by August “where we can have performances”.
“For too long, the Ward Theatre has been in a state of disrepair. With your help, we will make that change this year; together, we are breathing life back into the Ward,” she noted.
The Ward Theatre is one of two projects that received national focus on Labour Day under the theme ‘Restore. Preserve. Beautify’. The other project was at the Central Police Station, also located downtown.
The works at the Ward included repairs to the changing room and 13 bathrooms, as well as exterior and interior painting, fumigating and plumbing.
Ms. Grange noted that the project, which started a few days ago “will continue in the weeks and months to follow”.
“We will not abandon this project, as it is a priority of ours at central and local government,” she pointed out, noting that she will be seeking additional funding from the Government for the undertaking.
Mayor of Kingston, His Worship Senator Delroy Williams, for his part, noted that everything must be done to restore the Ward.
He said that for a city to prosper and be wholesome, creative spaces must be nurtured and preserved.
“We cannot move forward as a city without the creative talent of our people being explored; it’s very difficult. That is why the renovation of this theatre is important,” he noted.
“That is why the KSAMC gives you its commitment that we will complete the Ward, we will have it operational, and that the first performance at the Ward will be something truly spectacular,” he pledged.
Mayor Williams also commended the “unyielding efforts” of volunteers and private- and public-sector partners in the restoration project.
The Ward Theatre was built in 1912 by Colonel Charles James Ward, then Custos of Kingston, and he presented the building as a gift to the people of Jamaica.