Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, said the Government has given priority to the restoration of the Ward Theatre, as it represents an important store of cultural value and heritage.
An allocation has been made towards the rehabilitation of the building, which is expected to be operational by August.
“I would love to see the day when I can send my children here to come and watch the pantomime. I would love to see the day when we are having world-class performances in the arts here and everyone can come, whether you are from Dunkirk, Tivoli, Southside, Olympic Gardens and wherever – that you can come and experience the upliftment of culture here; and so we are making that investment to protect our cultural wealth,” he said.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the downtown Kingston-based facility today (May 23), where scores of residents, as well as private- and public-sector volunteers, joined in work to restore the building as part of the National Labour Day Project.
Work on the national monument, established in 1912, included repairs to the changing room and 13 bathrooms at the facility as well as exterior and interior painting, fumigating and plumbing.
The Prime Minister noted that the country’s wealth in culture “is oftentimes left to be destroyed by the ravages of time, destroyed by neglect and sometimes wilfully destroyed by ignorance. We cannot allow this monument of our culture, this storage of our value, which we call our heritage, to be destroyed”.
Mr. Holness hailed the unity of the volunteers and the support from across the political divide, the private sector, the public sector, the Jamaica Defence Force, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the media.
“We must use our labour to work together constructively; use our labour, our energy, our industry, our enterprise for the constructive development of our country, Jamaica,” he said.
The Prime Minister said Labour Day represents the use of labour to uplift people and improve life and communities.
The Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation collaborated with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Ministry responsible for organising Workers’ Week and Labour Day, to carry out maintenance work on the Ward Theatre. This is in partnership with the Ward Theatre Foundation, which is spearheading the ongoing rehabilitation of the building.
The Ward Theatre, situated on North Parade, Kingston, is one of two historical landmarks that received national attention throughout the day.
The other project involves restoration of the Central Police Station in downtown Kingston. Labour Day and Workers’ Week is being celebrated under the theme ‘Restore. Preserve. Beautify’.