There is some light at the end of the tunnel for patrons and officials of the Walcott House as plans to reopen the facility are well underway.
The Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) had announced in a press release on May 31, 2017, that it would be closing the museum immediately and indefinitely since it was unable to fund its operations due to government budget cuts.
But Director of SLNT Bishnu Tulsie said that all efforts are being made to reopen the Walcott House in early 2018.
“… It’s taking longer than we [want] but we would not want to do a ‘stop-start’ type of reopening. We want to ensure that all the elements are in place so that once we reopen it would stay reopened. We are hoping that by early next year… by then things should be in place. That’s a matter that the next council will take a decision on but we will certainly pursue it,” he said.
The director hopes that the reopening will be facilitated through grants and assistance from private businesses.
“We already have assistance from the Castries City Council, in terms of security. We have written to the utility [companies] and we will be following up with them to see if they can assist us with meeting utilities costs. We will be exploring options to find volunteers; maybe some people could volunteer once a month so that we can create a schedule of opening days. So it’s a mixer of several elements coming together. That’s why it’s taking longer, because we don’t have the money so we cannot meet the costs directly,” he stated.
“I know that when we learnt of the zeroing of our subvention and the closure of the Walcott project, the council had a meeting… they were exploring all types of options to, you know, continue with the project. We realised that it can’t happen without the support of government,” he added.
The Walcott House was established as a memorial space in honour of artistic icons, the late Noble Laureate Derek and twin brother Roderick Walcott, and their family. It was done with the vision of creating a museum using the childhood home of the two artistes.
The Walcott House was also hoped to raise the aesthetics of Chaussee Road and near communities as it had been marred by violent crimes over the years.
As to the significance of the Walcott House to both Saint Lucia and the wider world, the director said: “I understand that we are moving our tourism marketing to ‘we will inspire you’ or words to that effect. Certainly Walcott is a major inspiration to St. Lucia and the world, and I am hoping that we could find a way to tie…the theme that we’re using to promote tourism and make that the centerpiece of the inspiration that we want to share with our visitors.”
The Walcott House recently experienced the theft of two of its air-conditioning unit compressors. Officials have since confirmed that they were recovered with the help of locals.
“We’re really pleased that the guys in the neighbourhood are looking out for Walcott House,” Tulsie said.