Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steve Blackett????

The Ministry of Community Development and Culture is making every effort to develop local theatre by cultivating an appreciation of the arts among young Barbadians.

To this end, the Ministry’s officials will be pursuing discussions with several of their counterparts, including those from the Ministry of Education, to look at ways to develop and enhance the theatre arts programme and to integrate culture into education programming.

This is the word from Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steve Blackett, who also revealed that his Ministry was also collaborating with cultural stakeholders on a pilot project for the Community Arts Development Programme.

He was addressing the gala opening of the Gale Theatre of London and Barbados’ Production ???The Memory of Water’ at the Frank Collymore Hall.

"The objective is to expose children in communities to training in theatre, music, and dance. From this programme, we hope to create ensembles for theatre, drama, dance, wind players, a rhythm section, musicians and vocalists. It will continue to lay the foundation for the National School of Performing Arts," the Minister said.

According to Mr. Blackett, this year the Ministry had resuscitated the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) Summer Arts Programme which provides training for children who participate in the NIFCA.??

He said it was a resounding success and expected that the results would be translated into performances on the festival stage.

The Culture Minister added that while there was a need for professional theatre spaces in Barbados, on more artistes needed to use non-traditional venues until such a facility is established.

"Great theatre can be produced in church halls, libraries and other available places – including open spaces. The streets and the boardwalk are underutilised by the artistic community. In other countries, the United Kingdom for instance, these spaces are heavily used for street theatre and other performances," he explained.

With regard to the establishment of theatre facilities, Mr. Blackett announced that in addition to the proposed restoration of the Empire Theatre, the Cabinet of Barbados had given approval for the release of funds for the restoration of Queen’s Park.

"We expect to begin the process during the 2010 to 2011 financial year and I look forward to a time when theatres and theatre arts in Barbados are restored to their former glory," Mr. Blackett concluded.

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