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Cultural officer questions profitability of constructing national performing arts centre

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A cultural officer is questioning the profitability of constructing a national centre for the performing arts.{{more}}

Anthony Theobalds, cultural officer at the Ministry of Culture, raised the issue at Thursday’s closing of the Secondary Schools Drama Festival at the Peace Memorial Hall.

He said that it was quite pleasing on occasions such as the finals to see that so many had come out to support.

“The hall seats 250 to 300 and we have 500 people wanting to see the production and the space is too small,” Theobalds said.

But on weekends, when there might be a production that runs for the three nights, or the staging of an activity by the Cubans, the African Heritage Foundation runs a movie night or there is a lecture and there are 20, 30 or 40 people present, “the hall feels too big,” Theobalds said.

“It is a constant challenge when trying to plan for an audience; what size hall is appropriate?” he continued.

The Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines said it plans to build a new performing arts facility near the public library in Kingstown to seat about 700.

“… my concern, how many people will pay $50 or $60 to see a production by a local group to fill up 700 seats,” Theobalds continued.

If the presentation is free, the hall may get the 700 seats filled up, he said.

“But in a new space with air conditioning to pay for, with lights to pay, for the upkeep and staff to pay, will the public pay to see the productions? And if they will not pay, does it make sense to spend the money to build 700 seats?” he asked.

“I only raise the question and I am glad that the silence suggests that the question is a tough one,” he continued.

Former Minister of Culture René Baptiste announced some years ago plans for the erection of a state-of-the-art national performing arts facility to be built in Kingstown. (DD)

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