After months of delays and cost overruns, Government is finally planning to open the National Academy for Performing Arts south campus, as an Independence/Republic Day gift to the people of south Trinidad. This was revealed yesterday by Minister of Arts and Multi-culturalism, Dr Lincoln Douglas as a team from the Naparima Bowl, Queen's Hall, University of Trinidad and Tobago, NAPA North Campus, San Fernando City Corporation and the cultural division of the ministry accompanied him on a tour of the facility, located at the corner of Todd Street and Rienzi Kirton Highway.
Douglas said the Shanghai Construction company handed the facility over to UDECOTT a few weeks ago. The facility has a main theatre which holds 808 patrons and a smaller theatre for 190 people. There is also a spacious dance room and several classrooms. However, Douglas said a number of things still needed to be fixed.
"Some issues have already been resolved but a few areas remain outstanding such as the floor surfaces and the moving stage," Douglas said. He added that the ministry has engaged the services of contractors and engineering companies to look over the mechanical electrical, physical and performing spaces of the facility. However, he said before the facility is opened, a committee comprising of the various cultural organisations has to submit a report to the ministry.
"On Friday we put together a team with a number of stakeholders from UTT, NAPA, Queen's Hall, Naparima Bowl and cultural division, San Fernando and we are setting out a time-table for the official and formal opening of this facility. We have another team appointed to review staffing of facility for the official opening. The team will also look into the booking and pricing of the facility in light of the many requests we receive at the ministry," Douglas said.
Douglas said the campus was in high demand and he hoped that the team submits a report within two weeks so that the formal opening of the campus could be organised. Asked to specify when the opening will be held, Douglas said it will be between Independence and Republic Day.
"The ministry is aiming to have NAPA opened soon to facilitate many aspects of Independence and our celebrations between August and September," he said. Asked about the additional cost overruns, Douglas said he has not dealt with that. He said a number of trial events will be held at the facility before the formal opening.
Meanwhile, San Fernando Mayor Dr Navi Muradali said he wanted the campus opened in time for the Jubilee celebrations. "The city will love to have NAPA opened as an Independence gift to the people of San Fernando and the nation," Muradali said. Construction of the facility began in 2008 and was approved by then prime minister Patrick Manning at an estimated cost of $252 million. It was expected to be opened last October. At the time, Minister of Housing and the Environment Dr Roodal Moonilal, under whose portfolio UDECOTT fell, said it would have been completed at a cost of $350 million.