The Ward rehab hits $300m bump

Entertainment

The Ward rehab hits $300m bump

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, December 06, 2019

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MAYOR of Kingston, Senator Delroy Williams is seeking a whopping $300 million to complete the next phase of the restoration of The Ward, the 107-year-old theatre located in the heart of downtown Kingston.

Speaking to some stakeholders during a walk-through of the centuries-old building on Wednesday, the mayor disclosed work has commenced since 2017 and has included the completion of the restrooms, change rooms, seating carpet, and general repairs.

He, however, noted that in order to meet the completion deadline of November 2020, the next phase of the project will be the stage area, which involves undertaking repairs to rigging, lighting and sound.

“We are quite advanced in terms of the design and costing for this. In fact, we have already done an estimate which has come from experts across the globe who have come here, given us their time and their expertise and have come up with designs for the stage area and costings. I will tell you that when the theatre opens next year, the lighting will be a significant part of the theatre, you will be able to put on a show just with the lighting,” he told the Jamaica Observer's Splash.

“Where we are now, we are seeing the end... the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation is seeing the end. So all we are asking people and agencies and ministries, is let us complete the theatre. We have to nurture and give full expression to the creative faculties of the residents of Kingston and St Andrew. The theatre is symbolic of that. We have to create, in Kingston, the Pearl of the Antilles, and we create this by nurturing and giving full creative expression to the creative faculties of our residents. We want the creative industries to become the cornerstone of the economy of Kingston,” the mayor continued

When completed, the theatre will lose a small fraction of the seats due to current international comfort and safety standards, reducing the number to just under 800. The seats on the ground floor and mezzanine are currently being replaced, while those on the upper lever, popularly known as the “Fowl Roost” or “Nose Bleeds”, will be retained initially. The mayor, however, noted that these too will be replaced over time.

The cafeterias inside the theatre are all to be designed and resuscitated by local liquor company J Wray & Nephew, which has been associated with The Ward for a number of years. Mayor Williams also noted that accommodation is being made for access for members of the disabled community. There will be a number of wheelchair slots on the ground floor of the theatre.

The Ward theatre was given to the people of Kingston by Colonel Charles James Ward in 1912, but it belongs to all the people of Jamaica and has functioned as the 'national theatre' for hundreds of years. The city landmark, which sits on North Parade, was officially closed in 2007 due to disrepair.


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