Foundation firmly positioned to restore UNESCO World Heritage Site EMPIRE Theatre to former glory
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — The Board of Trustees of BEAT Foundation announced today that by the end of October it hopes to have completed the Government’s process to assess proposals for the restoration of the historic EMPIRE Theatre in Bridgetown, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The process includes a presentation to the Barbados World Heritage Committee (WHC) which the Foundation expects to take place this week.
“Our Foundation, its supporters and financial backers are firmly positioned to work in partnership with Government to begin the process of restoring the iconic EMPIRE Theatre to its former grandeur and use,” said Jim, McGowan, Founder and Board of Trustee member, BEAT Barbados Foundation. “At no cost to government, this project will serve as a catalyst initiative – the first in series of entertainment and media facilities that will form the world-class Bridgetown Entertainment and Arts District.”
On June 25, 2011, Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison, which includes the EMPIRE Theatre, was inscribed as the first heritage site of Barbados to enter UNESCO’s World Heritage List. In signing the World Heritage Convention, the Government of Barbados pledged to “protect and cherish” the historic site’s cultural heritage and preserve it as “a legacy for future generations” of Barbadians.
Restoration vision draws celebrity support
Ronald Fenty, father of Barbadian superstar Rihanna remembers the role the EMPIRE theatre played in his life growing up in Bridgetown. Father and daughter fully support the BEAT Barbados proposal to restore the theatre as a cornerstone to revitalizing the island’s entertainment district for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.
“For generations, the EMPIRE was the cultural hub of our island and an important part of our heritage. It was a gathering place for entertainment of all kinds, and when I was young, we would never miss a Saturday matinee performance!” said Mr. Fenty. “Rihanna and I agree that the vision to restore the EMPIRE to its original glory and purpose would uplift Bridgetown and create a much needed home for entertainment on our island, and for the entire Caribbean.
“Rihanna is behind the EMPIRE theatre restoration 110 per cent and I know she would be proud to take the stage on opening night,” he added.
Private, corporate financial commitments assured
In its recent budget and through the introduction of the Cultural Industries Development Bill, the Government of Barbados reasserted its commitment to the ongoing growth of the island’s cultural sector. The Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, described the pending Cultural Industries Development Bill as legislation that “will provide generous incentives to those companies and individuals who would invest in the cultural industries, including the restoration and preservation of heritage structures.”
Leading Barbadian financial expert and BEAT Foundation Trustee John MacKenzie said the EMPIRE Theatre Heritage Restoration Project is supporting the spirit of the legislation by attracting the commitment of local and international private and corporate funders. The Foundation has secured the expertise of U.S. based LM250 Digital LLC which enables its clients to leverage an extensive investment and innovation network of global partnerships including private investors, celebrities, Fortune 1000 brands, coupled with critical venture capital and private equity relationships.
“We are thrilled and encouraged by the considerable financial support our project has attracted to date, with assurances from private and corporate donors alike, and are confident that LM250 has the vision, access and experience required to capitalize on the exponential rate of evolution in the entertainment industry for the benefit for all Barbadians,” said Mr. MacKenzie. “With the addition of international public relations firm Cohn & Wolfe, our team is well poised to support government in its mandate to develop the cultural and creative capacity of Barbados, and ensure the conservation of World Heritage sites such as the EMPIRE Theatre.”
Cultural community says the time is now!
Dr. Anthony Carter, known to his fans worldwide as “The Mighty Gabby,” a legendary Calypsonian and cultural ambassador for the island of Barbados, said the excitement in the air among the artistic community on the island is palpable and offers of support have been streaming forward.
“The time is here and now! I can tell you with all certainty that the cultural community of Barbados is ready and committed to making this project a success,” said The Mighty Gabby. “Artists, actors and musicians of all genres and styles see the BEAT vision. We look forward to working with Government to bring to life this project that is so important to our culture and our industry.”
Andrew Pilgrim, highly regarded lawyer, actor and founding member of the BEAT Foundation, recently welcomed The Mighty Gabby and Merrymen frontman Emil Straker to the BEAT Board of Trustees and praised their commitment to the ongoing cultural development of the island, including the restoration of the EMPIRE Theatre as an iconic heritage building.
About BEAT Barbados
BEAT Barbados is an emerging media and entertainment enterprise with a vision to see Barbados become the Entertainment Capital of the Caribbean. BEAT is on a mission to make little Barbados into a Big Entertainment Destination by developing world class facilities that will bring artist and audience together in the venue and online around the world. BEAT Foundation is a charitable trust whose core purpose is to develop facilities for enabling the creative arts and entertainment industry in Barbados. For more information, visit www.beatbarbados.com.
SOURCE BEAT Barbados