BEAT Barbados EMPIRE Theatre project supported by Rihanna and her father
The Board of Trustees of BEAT Foundation announced they expect to complete the process required by the Freundel Stuart regime to assess proposals for the restoration of the historic EMPIRE Theatre in Bridgetown, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The process includes a presentation to the Barbados World Heritage Committee (WHC) which the Foundation hopes will take place this week.
“Our Foundation, its supporters and financial backers are firmly positioned to work in partnership with Government to begin the process of restoring the iconic EMPIRE Theatre to its former grandeur and use,” said Jim McGowan, Founder and Board of Trustee member, BEAT Barbados Foundation. “At no cost to government, this project will serve as a catalyst initiative – the first in series of entertainment and media facilities that will form the world-class Bridgetown Entertainment and Arts District.”
Restoration vision draws celebrity support
Ronald Fenty, father of Barbadian superstar Rihanna remembers the role the EMPIRE theatre played in his life growing up in Bridgetown. Father and daughter fully support the BEAT Barbados proposal to restore the theatre as a cornerstone to revitalizing the island’s entertainment district for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.
“For generations, the EMPIRE was the cultural hub of our island and an important part of our heritage. It was a gathering place for entertainment of all kinds, and when I was young, we would never miss a Saturday matinee performance!” said Mr. Fenty. “Rihanna and I agree that the vision to restore the EMPIRE to its original glory and purpose would uplift Bridgetown and create a much needed home for entertainment on our island, and for the entire Caribbean.
“Rihanna is behind the EMPIRE theatre restoration 110 per cent and I know she would be proud to take the stage on opening night,” he added.
Private, corporate financial commitments assured
Leading Barbadian financial expert and BEAT Foundation Trustee John MacKenzie said the EMPIRE Theatre Heritage Restoration Project is supporting the spirit of the legislation by attracting the commitment of local and international private and corporate funders. The Foundation has secured the expertise of U.S. based LM250 Digital LLC which enables its clients to leverage an extensive investment and innovation network of global partnerships including private investors, celebrities, Fortune 1000 brands, coupled with critical venture capital and private equity relationships.
“We are thrilled and encouraged by the considerable financial support our project has attracted to date, with assurances from private and corporate donors alike, and are confident that LM250 has the vision, access and experience required to capitalize on the exponential rate of evolution in the entertainment industry for the benefit for all Barbadians,” said Mr. MacKenzie. “With the addition of international public relations firm Cohn & Wolfe, our team is well poised to support government in its mandate to develop the cultural and creative capacity of Barbados, and ensure the conservation of World Heritage sites such as the EMPIRE Theatre.”
Cultural community says the time is now!
Dr. Anthony Carter, known to his fans worldwide as “The Mighty Gabby,” a legendary Calypsonian and cultural ambassador for the island of Barbados, said the excitement in the air among the artistic community on the island is palpable and offers of support have been streaming forward.
Andrew Pilgrim, highly regarded lawyer, actor and founding member of the BEAT Foundation, recently welcomed The Mighty Gabby and Merrymen frontman Emil Straker to the BEAT Board of Trustees and praised their commitment to the ongoing cultural development of the island, including the restoration of the EMPIRE Theatre as an iconic heritage building.