Regrello: $20m to fix NAPA flaws

National Academy for the Performing Arts

National Academy for the Performing Arts

By Michelle Loubon
March 27, 2010 – guardian.co.tt

Junia Regrello, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs says it will cost about $20 million to attend to the niggling issues like lighting and flooring at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), Princes Building Grounds, Port-of-Spain. Regrello came forward yesterday in his capacity as both performer and member of government. Along with recently appointed Sharon Christopher, chair of the management committee of the auditorium, Regrello admitted to flaws that need to be addressed.

Regrello said, “It would cost about $20 million… all the things that need fixing, to get the facility properly functioning and going.” He said, “It is the first time I have toured the facility. It is fantastic. I am saying that as someone who has performed in the Royal Albert Hall, (London). I am sold.” Regrello added, “The Sydney Opera House was built by Austrians. It took about two years to bring it to where it should be. “I admit there are grey areas that need to be worked out. I know for a fact we have to change the flooring. It is laminate.” Regrello appealed to the population to be “patient and give us time to work it out.”

He said, “Let us be proud that we have such a grand facility. It is the only one of its kind in the Caribbean.” On the other hand, Rubadiri Victor, interim President of the Artists’ Coalition of T&T had claimed there had not been adequate stakeholder consultation. He did so at a news conference at The Professionals’ Centre, Mucurapo, on Thursday. He said the state-of-the-art edifice had conceptual, technical and programming flaws. Regarding Vijay Ramlal’s (President of the National Chutney Council) claims that the Minister of Culture Marlene Mc Donald had not approved of chutney being staged there. Regrello said, “NAPA is not the ideal venue for tassa, chutney and parang.”

He said, “What the Minister really meant is NAPA is not the space for that. It is infectious. People respond to that kind of music with a real amount of energy, vivacity and joie-de-vivre. “The Minister had also denied Pan Trinbago the request to stage Champs In Concert there, too. “She never meant it as any disrespect. But merely she wanted to keep it upscale… keep it to a certain type of entertainment. We may even have to upgrade a Best Village show to bring it in here.” On the issue of promoters’ claims they will not be able to stage shows there and realise a profit, Regrello said “Major productions can be subsidised by big companies. Get the big companies to buy into it. “When the Entertainment Centre is completed… you can have that kind of event there. Promoters can stage their shows there.”

http://guardian.co.tt/news/general/2010/03/27/regrello-20m-fix-napa-flaws

3 Responses to “Regrello: $20m to fix NAPA flaws”


  • If there are serious errors to be corrected at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), then why was Culture Minister Marlene McDonald so hostile in her rebuttal of President of the Artists Coalition of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT) Rubadiri Victor’s proclamation about the major flaws there? Should people remain silent regardless of the controversies surrounding NAPA and praise the government for this conceptually foreign edifice? It is increasingly evident that the government wants NAPA to promote a foreign concept of the arts.

    The comments by Junia Regrello, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs who was sent to do damage control, show the problem with the people in charge of culture in this country:

    Regarding Vijay Ramlal’s (President of the National Chutney Council) claims that the Minister of Culture Marlene Mc Donald had not approved of chutney being staged there. Regrello said, “NAPA is not the ideal venue for tassa, chutney and parang.”

    He said, “What the Minister really meant is NAPA is not the space for that. It is infectious. People respond to that kind of music with a real amount of energy, vivacity and joie-de-vivre. The Minister had also denied Pan Trinbago the request to stage Champs In Concert there, too. ‘She never meant it as any disrespect. But merely she wanted to keep it upscale… keep it to a certain type of entertainment. We may even have to upgrade a Best Village show to bring it in here.’”

    Junia Regrello’s comments epitomize the problem with the people in charge of culture in Trinidad and Tobago. They seem to think that ‘upscale culture’ is ballet and opera like what European countries present and the PM and his government feel that we all should aspire to that. They would like us to believe that what evolved/developed in Trinidad and Tobago is too infectious and energetic for NAPA. The venue is not suited for Champs in Concert? The much touted Best Village performances would have to be ‘upgraded’ to be brought to NAPA? I supposed that by upgrade they mean toned down and made to resemble European opera and ballet performances as these foreign acts are seen as upscale culture befitting of NAPA.

    So in reality NAPA was never about hosting our culture. It was built to encourage a change of our culture to one that is more sedated and Eurocentric. Apparently, the government wants NAPA to showcase how colonized we are.

    These politicians dislike local culture except when it is politically expedient to do so. However, this is not surprising as part of the whole idea of being elitist in Trinidad and Tobago is to accept more elitist European/American tastes, concepts and general lifestyles. The government reeks of these colonized elitist types starting with the Prime Minister who thinks that the band he created, ‘Divine Echoes’, and his choice of ballroom dancers should be the pride of Trinidad and Tobago.

  • Is it not possible for NAPA to facilitate both: “upscale culture” and local culture?
    The problem here is the attitude of Culture Minister Marlene McDonald. This unaccommodating, arrogant and apparently belligerent minister has no respect for the people of T&T. She should be turfed!
    I am sure an accommodation could be worked out to meet the needs of all parties involved.Stay tuned.That 20 million will grow exponentially.It’s how we do “things” in T&T.

  • Urgent need for NAPA consultation
    Nobody explained why a five-star hotel is needed on the site, but provision was not made for accommodation of the administrative offices. Again, the hotly controversial matter of who will be allowed to use the place remains up in the air. What informs the apparent policy to reserve the facility for ‘upscale’ performances? Should ‘upscale’ be interpreted to rule out T&T’s premier performing arts-calypso, mas, pan, parang, chutney, drama, and festivals such as Ramleela, Best Village, Tobago Heritage…?

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