One of the champions for the restoration of the Ward Theatre, the late chairperson of the Ward Theatre Foundation, Ruby Martin, was remembered at a benefit concert held on November 18 at the Institute of Jamaica Lecture Hall, on East Street, downtown Kingston.
The concert, organised by the Foundation and titled, ‘Remembering Ruby Martin’, was staged on the date that would have been Mrs. Martin’s birthday. She had led a campaign to save the theatre and had organised several Sunday morning concerts over the years, before she passed away on April 17, 2012.
Among the performers at the event were: Dr. Curtis Watson (bass baritone); Archie Dunkley (piano); the Brandenburg Singers, Movements Dance Company and Rosina Moder (recorder) and friends.
In his remarks, Chairman of the organising committee, Cedric McDonald, said that Mrs. Martin was relentless in her pursuit to raise funds for the rehabilitation of the theatre until the time of her passing. Her final work, he said, was the implementation of a business plan and power point presentations to stakeholders and potential sponsors.
He noted that some $6.9 million is needed to restore the facility and appealed to corporate Jamaica and all sectors of the society to support the initiative.
Custos of St. Mary, the Hon. A.A. ‘Bobby’ Pottinger, who represented patrons of the Foundation, the Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen, said the concert was a fitting tribute to the life, work and memory of Ruby Martin.
“Her commitment was unmatched anywhere in Jamaica and through her tireless efforts while in charge of the Ward Theatre Foundation, the project to restore the theatre received prominence, both locally and internationally,” he said.
In his message, the Governor General said that the Ward Theatre, situated in the centre of Jamaica’s capital, was the birthplace of the National Pantomime and hosted presentations from Jamaica’s accomplished cultural icons, such as Ranny Williams and Louise Bennett (Miss Lou).
He urged Jamaicans to honour her contribution, not only by reflecting on what the Ward had contributed to the development of our culture, but by ensuring that it retained prominence as “a beacon of light, hopes and dreams for Jamaicans everywhere."
The theatre, established in 1912, is closed as it needs extensive repair and restoration. It was donated to the city of Kingston by the then Custos of Kingston Colonel Charles James Ward.