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Empire beer

by Shawn Cumberbatch

The Empire will strike back with theatre and beer.

In a decision some might deem a blow to some of the best known names in the local performing arts community, Government has agreed to a proposal to restore the historic Empire Theatre into a theatre and a small brewery.

Barbados TODAY confirmed that Cabinet has approved a competing submission from a group of local investors, which includes Preconco Limited Managing Director, Mark Maloney.

Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley is to announce details of the venture tomorrow at a Press conference, but investigations revealed that the news was communicated last week to those who submitted proposals to Government in 2011.

In a January 9, 2013 letter sent to BEAT Foundation, which is headed by Jim McGowan and garnered the support of a number of prominent local performers including Anthony Gabby Carter and Emile Straker, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Minister of Culture, Ernesta Drakes told them their bid had been unsuccessful.

“I write to inform you that the Cabinet has approved the proposal from the Consortium of Investors for the restoration of the Empire Theatre as a Theatre and a Craft Brewery,” she told McGowan in the correspondence copied to the Chief Town Planner.

Sources said the main focus of the Empire would be a theatre, but that the craft brewery producing the alcoholic beverage on a small scale, with an accompanying bar and/or beer garden, would be included.

Craft beers are typically produced in small quantities and have limited distribution. It was unclear what brand the one produced at the Empire would carry.

BEAT Foundation’s proposal had been the one gaining momentum in terms of support from local entertainers and performance artists, who were keen to have a new facility to call their own.

That group’s plan included restoring the external structure to its former glory “while designing the interior to provide a more modern ethos and world class functionality”.

“Creature comforts such as state of the art lighting, theatre seating, central air conditioning and & modern luxurious bathrooms befitting the elegance of this world class facility will be included.

Integration of the latest technologies will enable the theatre to produce and record quality productions and to broadcast them around the world in HD,” their submission stated.

4 Responses to Empire beer

  1. O. Walrond January 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    It is lamentable that with the dearth of theatre space in Barbados we would choose to forgo creating a modern facility out of this building, and opt for a beer garden. Barbados needs a theatre for the performing arts – especially drama – that is within the means of our artistes. The one space of quality, Frank Collymore, has been priced out of their reach. The Empire was the ideal opportunity to meet that need.
    We get it wrong again.

  2. J. Payne January 15, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Could the Empire be renovated from bottom to top and have roughly the same size as Frank Collymore Hall and be priced cheaper and still turn a profit? It’s going to cost money to renovate.
    I say good for them in coming up with something sustainable. If others wanted it to be cheap they should have submited a proposal and put up the front money to do it. That way if it failed, it’s their own money.

  3. Pingback: Bjerkham and Maloney Combo Does Again! | Barbados Underground

  4. Tony Webster January 16, 2013 at 5:55 am

    This is an intelligent compromise. Bridgetown needs- and this I believe has been espoused widely from all shades of political and social opinion- desperately needs evening activity. The dual attraction in this proposal, not only “shares” the evening attractions between locals and visitors alike, but can be the epicentre for all sorts of similar businesses and attractions….like why not, encourage the Baxters road ladies to shift their coal-pots somewhere nearer to Fairchild / Probyn street? As long as the place is scrupulously cleaned up daily, I cannot think of a nicer place to catch a bit of fried fish and a cold banks, than at the water-side. Fancy money…head to the west of the bridge; me and my friends, hang loose, to the east… then me and my gal will rent a “moses” , and I’ll row, and romance, the lady all the way up to Queen’s Park and back!! Thank God the private-sector will be under-pinning and managing the project- this at least should ensure it will never again be allowed to fall into dereliction. And a tip of my hat to Hon. Minister Lashley, for adding his vote to this bold venture!


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