Three cultural groups now have a space to call home, as the Ministry of Public Administration handed over the keys to a building in Laventille on Tuesday.
In a ceremony at the National Library in Port of Spain, Minister of Public Administration Allyson West said the initiative was a collaborative effort between the ministry and Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds, who is also the MP for Laventille West.
“As a former dancer myself, I was told a long time ago…that dance is not only about movement. It not only strengthens the physical body but also the mind…It is foundational, and it is very important.”
The keys to the building, on the Eastern Main Road, Laventille, were given to the Northwest Laventille Cultural Movement, the Marcia Charles Dance and Theatre Company, and the Malick Folk Performing Company.
West said, “As we recognise covid19 as a turning point in humanity in Trinidad and Tobago, and recognising, going forward, we need to do better, not just economically but to the development of the youth of TT, I see this as a moment where we can integrate culture in the way we develop out youth.”
She said both ministers will work together to ensure the groups are also able to get funds to refurbish the space so they can not only rehearse but also host shows and exhibits.
Hinds said he was approached in 2017 by Secretary of the Malick Folk Performers Jemma Jordan, who said the company had been in the business for years without a space to call home.
“When I considered the may hours of joy, happiness and pride Malick gave to this country (and) the work of Norvan Fullerton, its leader…contributing so substantially to the development and continuance of the Best Village Programme…it really did occur to me that we, as a society, could and should do better,” said Hinds.
He said the cultural groups deserved a space to hold their elaborate costumes and equipment needed for their work.
He said the government-owned building in Laventille caught his attention and he communicated to West that the groups could use the space.
“It took a little time, but I am more than pleases we are here today.”
Hinds said the new lease agreement would mean the three groups will only have to pay a peppercorn rent of $10 a year.
“These groups represent a large chunk of the experience of TT, the region, and the world. Laventille, as you know is not a place. It is an experience.
“The place is effectively their own to maintain and refurbish for the foreseeable future.”