Creatives Opine Creative Arts Centre

Merv-Ann Thompson

A new home for creatives will soon be on the way, as a site has been earmarked and designs begun. They were invited to opine their intended home, as the government promised to build the Creative Centre.


Funded through the Citizenship By Investment Programme, the home is designed to be nestled into the foothills of the Conaree/Half Moon area that overlooks the Royal Basseterre Valley.


On Monday evening(October 23rd), at the conference room of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions in Fortlands Basseterre, creatives were shown room-by-room design plans of the expected building.


Many shared the view that the design is somewhat constricting with the cubicle-like feel.


Carla Astaphan, a poet and potter, said, “…Give us something wavy, you know, something…these little boxes. I’m not, I’m not… It’s not working for me at all.”


Kesha Isaac-Adams, Co-Creative Director of Nu Age Productions said, “My comment tonight is more towards the functionality of the spaces more than the aesthetics. For example, I’m concerned with the outdoor amphitheater spaces that seem to be completely uncovered.”


Another poet, Jihan Williams-Knight said, “I think the design, first of all, is very impressive…I’m not a fan of the boxy, modern style. I think it’s important that we also incorporate those small performance spaces as well, stage, backstage, dressing, all of these things, sound booth, engineering booth, and so on.”


Others were concerned about the possibility of as much natural ventilation, as the building will be situated into the hill, to allow for minimal excavation. Architect Derionne Flemming explains.


“The direction that the site faces. It means that this site is going to be exposed to the sun, and there’s not really great opportunities for natural ventilation there based on the direction that the wind generally blows. One of the things that I would question is what type of strategies did the designers or architects use to sort of address the need for natural ventilation, given where we live, given the energy costs, that keep on rising. And if none have been employed as yet, seeing that they’re still in the conceptual phase, that would be one of the most critical areas to pay attention to.”


Some also shared concerns about the proposed number of retail amenities in restaurants, bars, galleries and shopping mall.


Artist Lizca Bass: “There’s just too much retail going on. It looks like a shopping mall. I love the design, but looking at your floor plan, floor by floor by floor, I’m seeing shopping, restaurant, bar, movie theater, cinema, amphitheater. I do agree that we need more seating for indoor. Because, when you get those high schools together, that’s 20, 000 children in one space. We need chairs for everyone and we’re not sitting on the floor.”


Hon. Samal Duggins reassured that the home can be viewed as a shell and can be fashioned to the individual’s liking.


He said, “Outside of the commercial spaces, there are spaces for us to design whatever we want. You want it to be a video studio, you want it to be an art studio, you want it to be a dance studio.


There are these spaces there. What Faron [Lawrence, Developer] was alluding to, is that in addition to these spaces, there must be a commercial aspect to keep the building going. They weren’t mutually exclusive. It wasn’t saying, it’s just commercial. It’s saying, you have your art studio, you have your dance studio, recording studio, movie studio, visual arts, you have whatever you want it to be… But along with that, you’ll have your food court, you’ll have your restaurants and you’ll have your bars that keep you there all day. It’s really a creative mall.”


Concerns for the aquifer and water table were also raised, as this supplies the majority of the Basseeterre area with fresh drinking water. Citizens are wary of structures being built on the aquifer. But the centre is expected to not affect the water table, being built into the foothills, according to Faron Lawrence, the developer.


The five-storey building is estimated to be completed in 3 years and will be 32, 800 square feet, with sick bays, an amphitheatre that seats 500 to 600 people, an outdoor location, and a 250-car parking lot.

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