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PRESS RELEASE: St. Lucia National Trust to close Walcott House due to funding cuts

By SLNT

2017-05-31-12_37_38-closure-of-walcott-place-2-1-compatibility-mode-microsoft-word-product-acThe Saint Lucia National Trust wishes to announce the closure of Walcott House as of today, May 31st and until such further notice.

This decision has regrettably been taken due to a number of funding cuts resulting in the Trust no longer being able to fund the operations of this memorial space in honour of artistic icons, the late Derek and Roderick Walcott, and their family.

The vision of creating a museum using the childhood home of Derek and Roderick was held for many decades, particularly as the house converted into the Lithographic Press and eventually abandoned and fallen into ruin.  The property at 17 Chaussée Rd was eventually acquired and in 2006, the Government vested the property to the Trust with the mandate of creating a museum.

In 2008, the concept of the house museum was included in the Vision Plan Document of the Government. While no physical manifestations with the project were achieved for many years, a UWI Open Campus symposium held in 2011 on the Walcott legacy reawakened interest in the project.

There were also moves afoot by the Government to address crime in the inner city and the Government expressed the intention to acquire lands at Grass Street adjoining the house in 2011.

The dream to realise the childhood home museum finally began to take form through the agreement of the Taiwanese Government to provide a grant of US$2.8 million or EC$7.53 million towards what was called the Walcott Place & Grass Street Urban Enhancement Project. This came after much effort, planning and manpower by the Trust and so many other partners.

The grant funds provided by the Republic of China on Taiwan were to have been used to fund the first two phases of the project.

Ground-breaking occurred on January 17, 2015 and Phase 1, which was the reconstructed house, was opened on January 24 2016 in the presence of a deeply moved Derek Walcott. The Trust was fortunate to have the active guidance and vision of Sir Derek Walcott in fashioning the project, which we had always wished to be strongly focused on education, as his mother Alix Walcott was foremost a teacher.

Phase 2 was due to have commenced before the end of 2016 and this involved the construction of an adjoining 3-level structure which would have provided a museum interpretation level; a branded bistro, gift shop and entertainment courtyard at ground; and the third level supporting a library, studio and support offices.

After phase 2, it was envisaged that the project would become viable as a touristic product providing a visitor product within walking distance of the cruise ports, offering live performances capturing the works and artistry of the Walcott legacy.

Phase 3 would have involved the creation of an EC$16 million arts centre, complete with a 130 seat black-box theatre, music, arts studios and training space. The Trust was actively seeking international funding to finance Phase 3, and established a fundraising committee which was undertaking a number of activities to achieve this.

12 additional lots had also been acquired by the Government for phases 2 and 3.

Additional funding was also secured through the Caribbean Development Bank’s Basic Needs Trust Fund to extend Grass Street to Leslie Land Rd, creating an attractive street capable of hosting outdoor events.

The project hoped to spur other undertakings which would be complementary to its development including the branding of Castries through the creation of “City of Walcott” walking routes that used soft interventions: Way finding and art in public spaces to engage visitors through the city and to Walcott Place. It was hoped that this would be realised through plans for the OECS Tourism Competitiveness Project being funded by the World Bank.

It was expected that upon completion of Walcott Place, 40 persons would have found direct employment, and the project was looking at engaging in training to assist persons in the community to create economic opportunities as well.

The Grass Street community was engaged at every stage of the project and representation from the community was vital in building good will for the project. The project assisted in the re-establishment of the Grass Street Development Committee and through the generosity of Dr. Winston Parris, a Special Scholarship Fund was established, by the Trust, for children of the community.

Unfortunately, while the Trust has not yet been able to engage the Government on this project, funding related to it has been cut. Thus far, the Taiwanese Government had transferred to the Government US$1.25 million (EC$3.36 million) and approximately $1.8 million had been spent on the project. As such, over $5.7 million of committed grant funds was still available from the Taiwanese Government for the project. Additionally, it is the Trust’s understanding that the road extension project has also been placed on hold.

Three persons were employed at Walcott Place, including 2 individuals from the community. While the Trust wishes that it could have absorbed the recurrent costs of the facility which includes 24-hour security, it simply cannot do so at this time given that it has also experienced a zeroing of its subvention in this financial year. As such, the Trust has been left with little choice but to close Walcott Place for the time being.

The Trust takes the opportunity to thank the many partners who worked on this project, particularly the Grass Street Development Committee and the community of Grass Street, the Ministry of Physical Development, the Ministry of Housing, the Saint Lucia Social Development Fund, the Caribbean Development Bank, the Cultural Development Foundation, the University of the West Indies Open Campus, the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, the Castries Constituencies Council, the families of the late Derek and Roderick Walcott, the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Her Excellency Dame Pearlette Louisy who provided much guidance and direction as the chair of the Walcott Legacy Committee.

The Trust wishes to assure the public that it will continue to work assiduously to ensure that Walcott Place becomes a fitting national cultural landmark in honour of the Walcott Brothers, the Arts Guild movement and the significant accomplishments and contribution to the arts, locally, regionally and internationally.

(0)(22)
This article was posted in its entirety as received by stlucianewsonline.com. This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of stlucianewsonline.com, its sponsors or advertisers.
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42 comments

  1. Well, it did not take too long for these shallow thinkers to see the error of their ways. Did it?

    In England and even here, there is the Royal this, and the Royal that. The Queen is suitably honoured. Almost every important place has this as part of its name.

    In the USA, there is Washington State, Washington DC, Washington Square, Washington Avenue. There is JFK this, Johnson that. Bridges, avenues, roads, airports, squares, highways all have names of those who they consider great.

    Here, after giving a place name to a place where some may never have been in their lifetime, they go to a house. Then the house is kept in a depressed ghetto-like area in the city. That is an insult and does grave violence to the memory of the poet.

    Sir Arthur Lewis is similarly is not given the proper respect that he deserves. A prophet has no honour in his own country.

    What about giving both these people suitably an entire city? Castries, Gros Islet, Vieux Fort etc. Except for the renamed airport and some John Compton place names, we honour the heroes of other nations that did great work for their countries. This fact is lost on most of us.

    (We have been shown the door by Britain in several ways: cheap independence and notice to quit the Privy Council. )

    What about having important cross street addresses with such names as "Corner of Lewis and Walcott Streets"? The RC Church in Castries should have such an address for example.

    (30)(11)
    • "Then the house is kept in a depressed ghetto-like area in the city. That is an insult and does grave violence to the memory of the poet."
      You are a self-hating Lucian. So the birthplace of the poet does grave violence to his memory? You don't get it. You really don't get it.

      (14)(27)
      • I agree with the writer. If the 'house' is the valuable and revered piece of memorabilia, there is a problem. Those not blessed with lizard logic would have long sought to remove it, piece by holy piece, to 'sacred ground', whatever the cost.

        Instead, we have our lesser mortals slavishly trying to copy the man's writing style. All they are happy doing is name dropping. In the process, try to bask in the reflections of his greatness.

        Simplistically, refurbish the house, and all will be well. That worked well. Did it not?

        (18)(2)
      • Clearly, you are extremely dumb when it comes to destination and media event marketing.

        (15)(0)
        • Dem fellas traded activity for intelligence and thoughtful planning.

          (9)(0)
          • Some of our political jackasses only understand how to spend money and not much how to make any. For that they fleece the taxpayers. They rob them.

            (3)(0)
  2. Turn it into a police substation. That will do a lot of good for the bad crime rate of the whole country. It will go down.

    Walcott will love the irony. The action will become a metaphor for law enforcement in Saint Lucia. Follow the money. There are drugs coming with it.

    (19)(2)
  3. The Soufriere Regional Foundation is mandated to operate the ports of entry in that region and to collect port fees. Perhaps the National Trust should be allowed to collect port fees at Rodney Bay so that it can reasonably be compared to the Soufriere Foundation. Let's promote Equity, since we have a Ministry of Equity for the first time in the History of our Cabinet.

    (1)(1)
  4. Maybe the dolphin circus could be relocated to the Walcott place ? Why hasn't this already been done.

    (16)(1)
  5. SLNT should be ashamed of themselves ! Really; they could not come up with anything else? I think they are just out to do political mischief and they need to STOP this. St. Lucians are not stupid and we can see through the charade.

    (15)(5)
  6. RASTA GOVERNMENT.

    Mon i tell yuh kenny is something else,he will hit where it hurt most...blatantly disrespecting the legacy Sir Walcott worked so tirelessly to commemorate on the behalf of st lucia society and one to be greatfully proud of.........BECAREFUL CHAS!U ARE IN A DUTTY GAME OF CHESS.

    (4)(4)
  7. Dead hero society

    This is a dead hero society not even if we dead they will honour we....someone ought to have advised Derek to consume only the yellow wine. What a disgrace!!!!!!!!!!

    (1)(1)
  8. Wow. Such Hypocrisy .

    Now the National Trust has found it's voice. Where was the National Trust all along? Dame Sessenne Descartes died in 2010. Almost a decade after, her home / residence (financed by the state and remains the property of the state) was NEVER converted into the promised museum. The area where she rests resembles a "septic tank." Her tomb was never completed, the minute they left this location at Patience Mon Repos, the authorities, never returned. Len-doose, zeb gwar and other weeds is her only form or show of appreciation. It appears that the CDF / FRC or even the SLNT have absolutely no care in this world. Is it because she hailed from the south? Why make so much noise for one location, seeking all sorts of funding when there is another going to ruins. Like seriously people? What are we doing?

    (12)(3)
  9. St Lucia national trust stop being puppets of the Kenny administration. Elections are over and campaigning too. Mr Kenny what is wrong? Are you ashamed that another party is showing more interest in your constituency than u ever did in your 15yrs and 10 of which you were prime minister? Is that it Mr Kenny? Or is that u seeing there's a possibility of you losing your seat next elections if in case this dsh development does happen? Mr Kenny for all these years u represent us vieux fortians what you give us apart from pathways and a community centre? Why do the majority of us still have to go up north to find a job only in the end to be burdened by transportation fees? I would really like to know mr kenny, because after all we were your responsibility. So I shouldn't be asking anyone but u for an explanation. The gutter u was so proud to make people know that it was u who did it. Yes true u did. But Mr Kenny how long were you fooling bacadere people telling them that the gutter was very delicate project and had them thinking that it was almost next to impossible to build. But to me I saw when they constructed it and to me there was nothing complicated about it. If you ask me you could have done it years ago but u just chose not to. So now someone else is trying to bring development into the south that will automatically provide jobs you find it as a problem? Wouldn't it create jobs for people and a market for farmers to sell their produce. Wouldnt other private entrupeners profit from this opportunity leading avenues to open new business places. Which automatically provides more jobs. Or are u just trying to protect your seat for next election. Well my advise to you is to save yourself the embarrassment if this project actually pulls through don't bother running for the upcoming elections because vf people will finally see you for the fraud you are. We people from vf worth more than pathways and short term employment, and frankly that's all u have to offer. And all those who approve the hotel in sabwisha and against the dsh for mangrove reasons. Sorry to burst your bubble but both areas have mangroves but I guess the one at sabwisha is cool since it was signed by the Kenny administration. We reach to a point where the mangrove in vf is more important than the one in chousiel smh. I only have one problem with the dsh project which is I think they should negotiate for a better deal so our country has a descent amount of gain. Rather than that I am all for the development in my constituency. Time somebody show Kenny for the fraud he is. Failure to vf.

    (13)(5)
  10. I think the plan to make the government look bad has backfired Calixte George Jr. and CO. I think that the government can take this place and place it under some other agency which as a proper management and funding plan. Then let SLP continue to run NT, CSA, CIP etc. and other associated organizations.

    (24)(3)
  11. The SLNT has been slack and idle for too long.

    Unfortunately, the stark, undeniable fact is that the SLNT is an organizationally bloated, non-results based, and seemingly unaccountable organization that has slipped under the radar of previous governments though allegedly meeting their reporting requirements, while be noticeably not transparent in publicly disclosing their audit results on a publicly funded web site that has a restricted access "members only" section. (the latter two which both which would strongly suggest a lack of transparency).

    In recent months seems to have been co-opted by disruptive political interests.

    It is time to finally colloquially "pull back the veil", undertake some long overdue organizational house-cleaning starting at the top.

    As a pilot project for government, it might also be useful to implement a results-based performance management framework (PMF) at the SLNT. This pilot project would allow tweaking of the PMF followed by a phased roll-out across government ministries. This would clarify a mutually understood articulation of yearly strategic outcomes, objectives, results. Consequently, it then provides a valuable addition to the government's tool kit necessary for taking decisions in sound fiscal management.

    (24)(2)
  12. The more they are less selective in expanding heritage sites, the greater the financial burden or recurring annual expenditures on maintenance. Case in point is the following. Do we need to maintain an islet for the benefit of a few backpackers every year to come to produce film for the National Geographic Magazine? I don't think so.

    How many Jacque Cousteaus do we need?

    (27)(4)
  13. Such hypocrites y'all wait for the man to die to close the place. Y'all prb could not wait for him to die to do so. The one thing that showed that st lucians are elated to have him as a star y'all want to take it away. So many other things that can be removed in place of the Walcott house... move y'all selves first .. sah qway suh hot!

    (5)(5)
  14. Showing laziness of key persons in the Trust. Just want to sit down and get things.

    They want to build a mulit million office complex at Pigeon Poiont and cannot properly market the Derek Walcoot house on Chausee Road. But i suspect it is vexation and anger to just throw in the towel and blame Chastanet.

    (28)(6)
    • Cant Fix Stupid

      Perhaps you should ask the PM to release the rest of the funding for the project provided by the Government of Taiwan....

      (7)(9)
  15. I don't agree to close it just get someone who can come up with ideas fresh young mind to generate funds to maintain our pride

    (5)(4)
    • Take this building down piece by piece, and place it in a different environment. You want the house not the neighbourhood.

      Too many SLP human predators and scumbags have been created by SLP and its plywood mentality.

      This is crime trap. If you go anywhere near there, you are done for. This goes for both natives and visitors alike.

      (15)(6)
      • What good is the house without the neighbourhood?

        (5)(9)
        • You make a very significant point. This SLP neighbourhood with this house in it, says that the idiots that decided this, thoughtlessly did cast pearls before swine. After all, you can never ever make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

          SLP red Kool Aid drinkers forgot that this is one of the no-go ghetto areas created by the SLP in Castries?

          (6)(0)
      • Where do you suggest placing it - next to Domino's Pizza in Rodney Bay?

        (9)(9)
  16. Such a shame that this project which received the blessings of the late Sir Derek Walcott had to close because of a change in policy brought about by a change in Government.
    Sir Derek’s poetry will haunt them from the grave.

    (5)(3)
  17. Lady Anonymous

    This is a catastrophe and a shame for Saint Lucia ! What did such a building cost so much money in the first place is my question? when has all the money gone is my second question

    (11)(1)
    • Ask the government, they are the ones withholding the funds provided for this project by the Taiwanese government.

      (1)(1)
  18. The Prime Minister was right that the Director of the National Trust is unable to generate cash and probably has no vision. How difficult could it be to generate some money from the newly opened Walcott House Lokiuon Chaussee Road!? The Director would rather authorize the closing down of the Monument than to get some plan in motion to enable it to afford itself. Pathetic!!

    (14)(9)
  19. Not strange at all. If NT had a real deep sense of purpose, you would have invested tim, energy and resources into more impactful and significant things. This befalls the very short-sighted all the time. NThas always been about self-glorification and aggrandizement.

    (9)(6)
  20. I loved this concept but nothing would take me to Grass Street...and I would not encourage any visitor to go to a museum in Grass Street, a known hot spot for crime. Unless there was some kind of approach to dealing with the boys on the block, I doubt the real value of this will be realized....sad but real

    (9)(3)
    • My thoughts exactly. Some people are rather impractical. How many Saint Lucians, born and bred, not those that bring the 100-thousand dollar bread will visit every year out of the 170 plus population? Can that sustain the building?

      Are there other ways of honouring that gentleman? All that hullabaloo about that house, and now what?

      (1)(2)
    • You are too good for the Chaussee? Too intelligent, too educated? Too refined? You are a self-hater. Ashamed of your own nationality.

      (5)(1)
  21. The result of the vindictiveness of a PM who cannot and will not accept criticism. It the myopic J*** A** can't see the economic benefits of such a building to the country what is he doing in the PM's chair? Should we be surprised? No not me! His position on Pigeon and Maria Islands, the ignorance propagated about the origins of snakes on Maria Islands by Guy Joseph, the closure of RSL and most of all the assault on our dear kweole by Fedee. Chastanet has no time for our cultural and historical heritage. To him they have no significance

    (11)(12)
    • The Parrot version of French Creole is what you are here defending? You must be out of your banana tree running mind.

      (3)(2)
  22. So all of this was done with no clear backup plan in case of economic downturn or reassessment of economic priorities on the island? What I'm getting here is the Trust depends solely on government subventions to run national assets, which are supposed to generate some sort of revenue stream to help the organization be more self-sustainable. I like the idea of having the National Trust managing such wonderful sites but I'm only now beginning to wonder why it is that with all these sites at their disposal, they're not generating enough revenue to at least be less reliant upon the government, and by extension tax payers, in order to maintain some of the sites/assets under their control. Where have all the subventions and revenue from the past decade or so gone to? I'm not trying to be critical here but it surely doesn't hurt to ask such questions.

    (10)(3)
    • Well established businesses sometimes have to rely on overdraft facilities from the banks in order to make ends meet. Are you still surprised that the Trust, which is a not-for-profit agency, requires Government support? Just think of all the commercial businesses which have folded, despite having lots of assets at their disposal, then repeat your statement about the Trust.

      (1)(2)
      • The Soufriere Regional Development Foundation is a quasi-governmental organization, just like the Trust. They maintain national assets, just like the Trust. They certainly employ more people and have more overheads. However they have never asked for a subvention or funding from government. They learnt how to generate a constant revenue stream to be self sustainable. So by your assessment,are you saying that the Trust have absolutely no sound business plan to increase their revenue at the Walcott House and every other site under their wing? Are you saying that tax payers money has to be continuously poured into the Trust with zero effort on their part to try and sustain themselves, plus as far as I see, no form of accountability? These guys need to get their act together and put forward a better plan to generate revenue for the organization.

        (1)(0)
        • It is now very convenient to play the Soufriere Foundation against the National Trust. How happy you are that the Foundation seems to be generating profits! But is it really profitable? In any event can you truly compare the activities of the Foundation with those of the Trust? Ok, well take a bow in respect of the Soufriere Foundation, and then tell me about the other quasi Government agencies who continue to receive subventions. Tell me about the agencies organising Jazz, Carnival, Food and Rum Festival, etc, etc. Do they "make money" like the Soufriere Foundation? In time, we will know if the Foundation is truly profitable. But for now, enjoy the pleasures of your thoughts.

          (1)(1)

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