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By Richard Johnson

Observer senior reporter

LIFE is being breathed into The Ward theatre which sits in the heart of downtown Kingston. It has been idle for close to a decade. If mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams has his way, the century plus-old theatre will be operational by the end of August this year.

The city landmark has been identified as one of the national monuments and heritage sites to be targeted as a major project for Tuesday’s Labor Day.

The mayor’s plan sees him making the theatre operational within the set timeline. The work in this phase includes repair and replacement of seats, the renovation of 10 changing rooms, plumbing and electrical works, replacing the ceiling of the theatre, acquisition of an air conditioning unit, and painting. All of this attracts a price tag of $40 to 50 million.

For Labor Day, Mayor Williams has identified some specific areas to be targeted.

“On Labor Day, we will be doing some tiling, some carpentry work, and some plumbing. But most of the plumbing will be done prior to Labor Day. We will be cleaning and clearing and carting away. There will be some electrical work being done, although the bulk of the electrical work would have been done prior. We will also commence painting the exterior as well as the upper floor. But the focus will be the changing rooms and cleaning and clearing of the space. On Labor Day members of the public can always come by, but be mindful that they may not gain entry due to what may be happening on the ground — it has to be monitored and orderly. We have already registered over 80 persons on line, and we are now in the process of identifying the various areas, based on the scope of work, where they will be placed. They will be notified before Labor Day so that we have some order, that the right amount of persons are assigned to designated areas,” he explained.

Bringing The Ward back to an operational level has become a priority for the mayor since he was elected to that position last year. For him, the creative industries are part and parcel of the identity of a people and he strongly believes that spaces which harness and expose the creative talent of a people must be preserved.

“Theatre is an important cultural space in any society. It is similar to a mirror — a means to look at self as it reflects society. A theatre is also a space which nurtures the creative and creativity is very important to a prosperous and progressive society. It is also a space to float ideas and where all ideas can contend, and we learn the customs and culture of other peoples. No progressive society can operate without this critical space,” he argued.

The Ward theatre was built in 1912 as a gift from Colonel Charles James Ward, the then Custos of Kingston, as a gift to the people of the parish.






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