THE Queen's Hall board of directors has been reappointed for another three years and will continue to be chaired by Dr Helmer Hilwig.
Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell handed over the instruments of appointment on April 28 to Hilwig.
Other reappointed board members are deputy chairman Nisa Suepaul, Charlene Griffith, Victor Prescod, Brian Wood, Karla Gonzales and Michelle Joy Cato. Tenor and impresario John Thomas joins the board as a new member.
Hilwig told Newsday in an interview that he was grateful and humbled that the minister had reinstated him for another three years because he has big plans to transform the 62-year-old theatre space at St Ann's, and wants to be there to see his plans actualised.
"We are the grande dame of theatre, and we have tried constantly to be at the forefront for innovative new ideas. Queen's Hall is a beautiful place. Parking space, beautiful building...I am aiming to use its equipment and layout to capitalise on that.
"We created an outside garden theatre on the patio area where we have the opportunity for smaller lunchtime concerts or plays, maximum 200 people sitting under a canopy in that fresh air."
The outdoor theatre was completed, and a soft opening held three weeks ago. A hard opening was planned, but has been pushed back because theatre spaces are now closed because of covid19 spikes.
"We are almost ready to present it to the public and make it available. In principle, the garden theatre is ready to go but we are waiting till things quiet down with the covid19 to make an official opening."
An art gallery and sculpture garden are also being built where up-and-coming artists can display their work to patrons who are waiting for a show to start.
"Go to Queen's Hall, buy a ticket, and while waiting for the show, go for a walk in the sculpture garden. Give young artists an opportunity to display their work. That will be a whole part of the garden theatre experience."
The sculpture garden is still being built. There is already a designated area it, where benches have already been installed.
"My planning is first going to be: open the garden theatre; two or three months later, open the sculpture garden; then open the art gallery for Queen's Hall."
Hilwig said it was a good idea to merge the Ministry of Tourism with culture and arts because it opens an opportunity to foster inter-regional art tourism.
He said Queen's Hall was the first theatre space to start selling tickets online. With its proximity to Hilton Trinidad, when inter-regional travel opens up again, he hopes the space will become a culture and arts attraction.
"We have an enormous wide variety of shows in Trinidad, from opera, ballet, musicals, concerts, pan and theatre. Now, if you are an artistically inclined person in St Lucia or Grenada, and you have a little bit of money, you would say, 'Let's go to New York,' buy your tickets online, book a hotel room online and buy tickets for the show you want to see on Broadway online.
"Now, why don't we give these people another option?"
He said when the borders open, people from the region can book a "nice artistic weekend" online by buying tickets from Queen's Hall and stay at the Hilton.
"That is a way to create inter-Caribbean cultural tourism. Now you hope, finally, of course, that other theatres and panyards, they will also get their tickets online, and people can advance and book their tickets already, even if they are not in Trinidad."
A media release from the Tourism Ministry said Mitchell expressed his satisfaction with the board for successfully staging events in strict adherence with the public health regulations, which ensured the safety of everyone.
Mitchell also commended the board for its role, during the previous term, for its vision and creation of the garden theatre.
He expressed gratitude on behalf of the Government to the outgoing honorary secretary, Zaida Rajnauth, for her commitment and service during the last term.
He also reflected on the sad and untimely passing of Raymond Choo Kong, a former board member. Choo Kong was founded stabbed to death at his home in Arima in 2019.