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Feature address by Dr. the Honourable Lincoln Douglas, Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism

On the occasion of the Official Opening of the National Academy for the Performing Arts, South Campus

Friday September 28, 2012
NAPA, South Auditorium
San Fernando
(Pre-launch Parade at 9.00AM)


  • The Honourable Mrs. Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, Minister of Public Administration and Member of Parliament for San Fernando West
  • Cabinet Ministers
  • Ministers of Government
  • Members of the Diplomatic Corps
  • Your Worship Dr. Navi Muradali, Mayor and First Citizen of the City of San Fernando
  • Ms. Desdra Bascombe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Arts & Multiculturalism
  • Mr. Vel Lewis, Deputy Permanent Secretary
  • Senior Government Officials and Heads of Department
  • School Principals, students
  • Specially invited guests
  • Members of the Media
  • Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen


Good morning and welcome. I have the distinct pleasure this morning of welcoming you, very warmly, to the National Academy for the Performing Arts, South Campus. I must extend greetings also, to our viewing audience as we are being broadcast live from San Fernando on CNMG - C TV.

Today’s ceremony is set to commemorate the grand opening of this premier facility; an opening, I dare say, many would agree was long overdue. Having said that, I must confess that the old adage: “Better late than never” immediately comes to mind.

Because what is of much greater significance, Ladies and gentlemen, is that we are all here now, to witness a momentous occasion; an occasion which the people of San Fernando and environs, in particular, are extremely excited by and warmly embrace.

Before I continue, I would like to say a very special “Good Morning” to the students and young people in the audience. How are you all doing this morning? {PAUSE FOR RESPONSE}
Your presence here this morning is critical as YOU are primarily the ones who will occupy this space and use it extensively for your individual and collective growth and development. I invite you to pay close attention to every moment of this ceremony and enjoy the space, the ambience... because it is truly yours to treasure.

As Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism, I am proud to preside over the grand opening of NAPA, South. And you have observed that I have called it: NAPA, South and not “SNAPA” or any other configuration of sounds as some persons might be inclined to do.

This premier theatre and concert auditorium and outfitted with an on-site campus for the performing arts, will go a long way in serving the needs of the artistic community in South Trinidad, in particular.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as I recount the history of this completed milestone project, it would be remiss of me to fail to acknowledge that the building was conceptualized sometime around 2005 and 2006, under the then Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

At that time, a contract agreement was made between UDeCOTT and the Shanghai Construction Group, where the Urban Development Company agreed to engage the services of the Shanghai Group to construct both performing arts academies – north and south. Construction of this structure began in April, 2007 under the watch of my immediate predecessors in government.
Works were finally completed earlier this year, 2012, and today, the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism, stands poised to take full oversight and management responsibility of a facility which boasts of the following: -

  • A performing college with two floors, ten class rooms, and a smaller theatre with a seating capacity of one hundred and eighty (180);
  • A main performing theatre, where we are currently located, which holds eight hundred and six (806) seats;
  • Advertising and lighting towers, and
  • Some two hundred (200) parking spots in the court yard.

All of this is accommodated on a total site area of approximately two hundred and fifty-five thousand square feet (255,000 sq. ft.), while the total building floor space is in the vicinity of one hundred and ten thousand square feet (110,000 sq. ft.).

Outfitted with modern conveniences for stage, sound and lights, and accessible to every burgess and citizen, including the differently-abled, NAPA South may well come to be regarded as the “jewel of the southland”.

I digress a bit to add that NAPA’s cousin in the area, the Naparima Bowl, need not feel envious in any way... the Bowl has survived and will continue to thrive as a leisure and entertainment space, largely due to the resilience of south people.
Each one of these cutting-edge concert spaces – Queen’s Hall, Naparima Bowl, NAPA North and now South – falls within the management remit of the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism.

As Minister charged with direct responsibility for culture and the arts and as an artist myself, I harbour a keen interest in the development of sustainable performance spaces in our country. We must have facilities in which we can showcase and help develop the performing arts, starting at the community level and moving all the way across the spectrum.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is becoming clearer with each passing day that we as a people and as a government can no longer place such heavy reliance on our hydrocarbon-rich exporting economy. The world is changing rapidly and constantly challenging us to seek new and innovative ways to secure our continued growth and development.

The Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism, and by extension, the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago recognizes the significant role the performing arts plays in defining our national and cultural identity, while potentially bolstering our economy.  

As such, we hold firm to our commitment to create and develop sustainable, well-managed creative and cultural industries which will harness the boundless creativity of our people.
Already we have started building on the existing systems and structures, while simultaneously facilitating the bold conversations and stakeholder dialogues that precede any process of real and impactful change and transformation.

Only two Friday’s ago, on September 14, the Ministry hosted a stakeholder meeting at NAPA, North, with key interest groups, with a view to improving the experience of the Carnival 2013 Parade of the Bands.

Thanks to candid and focused contributions from band leaders, representatives from the Police Service, the University of the West Indies Centre for the Creative and Festival Arts - to name a few - we now have viable material with which we can set to work.

But it does not end there, of course, because our aim is to be ready for Carnival 2014 even as we close this calendar year. THAT is the kind of foresight with which we will be approaching the roll out of our major celebrations and revenue-generating festivals.

All of these plans, policies and projections have been articulated comprehensively in our Cultural Policy, which is currently before Cabinet for deliberation and approval. On this too, we will be seeking your valued input as we streamline our goals and objectives over the next fiscal year and beyond.

Culture is the very foundation upon which we walk as a people. It is the way we live and treat with one another as we go about our business on a daily basis. Culture speaks to our mutual understanding of one another and the way in which we use those exchanges to uplift our society.

The performing arts - as a whole - is the vehicle through which our culture is made manifest, thereby fostering innumerable learning possibilities.

Gratefully, in Trinidad and Tobago, we can boast of a rich and burgeoning cultural and artistic landscape. While we still seek ways in which we can improve, the arts remains tremendously buoyant in part due to the support and encouragement of our good corporate citizens.

The business community continues to provide tangible support and resources to fuel development and growth among our artists.

We warmly invite them; we warmly invite YOU… because I am sure some of you are here today, to keep partnering with the artist and with the Government for sustainability.
Ladies and gentlemen, I still observe the flags being flown proudly on your vehicles and the buildings decorated in our national colours.

We are still in celebration mode, in honour of our fiftieth anniversary of Independence and, more recently, our state of republicanism. This year could not be a more fitting time to declare NAPA, South open to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

Before I do that, however, I would like to thank the Permanent Secretary, the Deputy Permanent Secretary, other members of the Executive Team and the staff at the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism. I propose to continue to collaborate effectively with you for the benefit of the people of this country.

In closing, I wish to thank my colleagues for being present and to all of you for your support in ensuring that the National Academy for the Performing Arts, South will be for us today, and for generations to come, a fertile and enriching space for all expressions of art, music, dance, theatre and masquerade.

Ladies and gentlemen, I now officially declare NAPA, South open!

Thank you and may God bless our nation.