The Ward Theatre Foundation and the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sports have been working with CER (Cultural emergency Response) in seeking assistance in the restoration of the historic Ward Theatre.
CER is a programme of the Dutch funding agency the Prince Claus Fund. The funding has enabled work to begin with a firm based in Florida that has extensive experience of the very specific field of conserving historic theatres. They will be able to provide advice on the restoration of the historic aspects of the building.
The architectural conservation firm Heisenbottle Architects visited the Ward on June 4th and 5th in order to inspect the building and meet with the various stakeholders including:
The Directors of the Ward Theatre Foundation Answerd Ramcharam of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC)
Patrick Kennedy of the Kingston City Centre Improvement Company (KCCIC)
Ian Neita, Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF)
Anthony Johnson, Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT)
One of the most important aspects of the conservation programme is that the architects will need to know the future function of the building, as this will determine the exact nature of the work involved and its impact on the historical fabric.
Richard Heisenbottle, President of R.J. Heisenbottle Architects stated, “The Ward Theatre’s physical presence as a National Monument in the centre of Kingston is a pivotal component for the area’s redevelopment. Its architecture is powerful, unique and very much part of Jamaica’s culture.”
Mrs. Ruby Martin, Chairman of the Ward Theatre Foundation was delighted with progress. “We have received generous support from the Government through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and this latest development is good news. We want to bring the Ward back to its former glory but we also want to take it into the 21st Century.”
“The theatre is in surprisingly good structural condition, requiring only a sensitive and well thought-out restoration plan to return it to its original prominence and glory.” Continued Richard Heisenbottle. “The Ward Theatre represents one of the most significant centres of cultural life in Kingston. I am convinced that its restoration and continued use will be crucial in the revitalization of downtown Kingston and a source of pride to all the citizens in Jamaica.”
“The TEF have been very generous to us so far but there is a still an enormous amount of work to be done particularly on the electrical systems and the interior. It is called the Ward Theatre but in many ways it is the National Theatre of Jamaica that needs to serve many different functions as a multi-purpose performing arts centre. So in many ways we are working to restore it to an even better condition than before.” Said Dr. Jonathan Greenland, a Director of the Ward Theatre Foundation. “It’s a very exciting challenge.”