THE National Academy for the Performing Arts (Napa) first opened its doors as the premier performing space in TT ten years ago. Affectionately referred to as Napa, this iconic architectural structure is bordered by Memorial Park, the Queen’s Park Savannah, Knowsley Building and the National Museum and Art Gallery, Port of Spain.
To mark this milestone, a tenth anniversary logo will be launched next month and over the next 12 months a calendar of cultural and educational events will be rolled out, including several niche and signal events for CARIFESTA XIV, to be hosted by TT from August 16-25, 2019.
Formally commissioned by the late prime minister Patrick Manning on November 9, 2009, Napa was constructed on the site of the former Princes’ Building Grounds and adopted the legacy of that building’s ballroom that hosted many galas, fashionable society events, theatrical productions and receptions over the decades and was the venue for the inaugural Music Festival event. However, its most popular use was as the home of the late Lord Kitchener’s Calypso Revue Tent.
Napa also serves as a performance and teaching academy and houses the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s (UTT) Academy for the Performing Arts (APA), a hotel and restaurant, and The Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts) Auditorium, the latter being a fitting tribute given the legacy of the location, said a media release. The building’s design comprises a cluster of domes configured to resemble TT’s national flower, the Chaconia, which is identifiable by a fiery burst of red petals that gently taper into a loosely hanging tail. Its seating capacity is 1,200 making Napa one of the largest indoor performance spaces of its kind in TT and the Caribbean region.
According Minister of Culture, Community Development and the Arts Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, “Napa is an iconic cultural space; it lives and breathes the rich heritage of TT. Its legacy is in the young prodigies who cross its stage and the future they will make for themselves and the cultural landscape that is TT.”
While the first major event held at Napa was the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on November 27, 2009, Napa was developed to play a pivotal role in the national plan for the development of the arts and culture in TT and is the home of the National Steel Symphony Orchestra (NSSO), National Theatre Arts Company (NTAC) and National Philharmonic Orchestra (NPO).
Napa has hosted top local, regional and international acts including Calypso Rose, Sparrow, SuperBlue, Machel Montano, Heather Headley, US National Symphony Orchestra, Shaggy, Taurus Riley and renowned international speakers such as Malala Yousafzai, Deepak Chopra, Colin Powell, Al Gore, John Maxwell and Immaculee Ilibagiza. Napa has hosted over 600 shows/events since opening its doors.