Barbados is another step closer to preserving its built heritage, now that the National Restoration Programme for Barbados and the Preservation (Barbados) Foundation Trust has been launched.

The brief ceremony was held at one of the island???s historic buildings, Ilaro Court, and attracted an A-list of guests, including Patrons of the Foundation: Governor-General of Barbados, Sir Elliott Belgrave, and world-renowned English composer and theatrical producer, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart stated that he ???warmly welcomed??? the initiative, which was introduced by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth through the Task Force for the Restoration of Barbados??? Built Heritage.

He explained that it tied into Government???s Growth Strategy, which sought to fully exploit the potential of culture as an emerging economic sector. Stressing that heritage spoke to a total legacy, the Prime Minister pointed out that built heritage offered great promise.

???It is an area which allows Barbados to become a credible player in the global market chain. Our built heritage tells many stories that we can share with the rest of the world, but to do so, we have to preserve it,??? Mr. Stuart maintained.

He added: ???Let me hasten to state that our built heritage is not confined to Great Houses and houses built of stone. Indeed, one of our greatest national motifs is included, namely, the chattel house, whose story is replete with meaning.???

Insisting that preservation was ???not only for visitors but for us as a people???, the Prime Minister explained that based on similar initiatives around the world, ???we see the difference they have made to the economies and societies of the respective countries???.

He continued: ???The restoration of buildings does not only provide pleasant visual images for the passers-by or even those who take tours of the various open houses. These buildings can be re-purposed for everyday usage as offices, residences, museums and libraries, and as places of learning, and the list goes on. The benefits accrue not only to our tourism sector, but also to virtually every sector of the economy.”

The Prime Minister also noted that other benefits of restoration included employment opportunities. ???It permits the preservation of skills that may be otherwise lost, thus providing sustainability in the labour market for skilled artisans. Career opportunities are expanded as we seek the talents of persons skilled in working with certain materials. Architects can specialise in recreating designs of the past that speak to our history,??? he reasoned.

The National Restoration Programme aims to develop a strong culture of conservation and protection in Barbados and to garner support for the restoration of the island???s historic properties.

Financial contributions can be made to the Foundation???s bank account at the Royal Bank of Canada, Chelston Park, St. Michael, Barbados, account number 2100-668-3, in cash, by cheque, bank draft or wire transfer. Payments are to be made to ???The Preservation (Barbados) Foundation Trust???.

Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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