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. [email protected]