Action! - Work finally being done on Ward Theatre

May 24, 2017
Ricardo Makyn Multimedia Photo Editor Marleen Walker sweeps the balcony of the Ward Theatre yesterday during Labour Day activities.

Jonathan Greenland, executive member of the Ward Theatre Foundation believes that this time around, talks about getting the iconic venue restored to its glory days are more than just words.

Greenland was speaking with THE STAR following the Labour Day project spearheaded by The Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) and the Culture Ministry yesterday at the iconic venue.

He said the recent thrust has him feeling the most optimistic he has in years.

"This time it's quite different. We've always had a lot of pledges that kind of went nowhere but this time we have some real momentum," he said. "Once you have two major entities (KSAC and the Culture Ministry) pushing for something, all the other little ones will follow."

Greenland says he is hoping to have the theatre operational by the end of the year.

"There is the air conditioning that needs to be replaced and that could take a couple of months in itself ...," he said. "It's in excess of US$200,000 and the Ministry of Culture has committed J$32 million towards that so hopefully that will cover (it) and that's different from the J$40 million committed by the KSAC. That money will cover (things like) seating, electrical (work), plumbing and bathrooms."


Important cultural space


Greenland encouraged persons to volunteer to help with cleanup efforts as the project takes as much manpower as it does money.

Enola Williams of the Kingston on the Edge urban arts festival, expressed joy at the work being done.

Williams, who has been among the few organisers to host events at the theatre recently, encouraged persons to utilise the space for events once it becomes operational.

"What's the sense in it being fixed up if it's not going to be used?" she said. "If it's not used it will be dead and we want to see it flourish. It's a very important cultural space."

Several bystanders who passed the theatre yesterday also expressed satisfaction with the work. Jason Williams, 26, said he has never seen a production inside the theatre, just like "three quarters of the people downtown".

"That place is history innu, and me wah fi be a part a dat one day. Miss Lou, if she was alive, me sure she woulda happy fi see dis. Nuff time me hear say things ago fix and me nuh see nothing so me happy bout dis," he said.

Sharon Green said, "This building should not have been allowed to reach to this stage and me glad say work finally a do pan it. Me wah my children fi can go watch a play inside there and me just hope that when it fix, the people dem will appreciate the work and help maintain it."

The Ward Theatre, which was donated to the city of Kingston by Colonel CJ Ward in 1912, was declared a national monument in January 2000.


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