Fresh from an official visit to the People’s Republic of China, Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley said today he wants to see Barbados’ capital city Bridgetown assume “the global stature and importance” of the Great Wall Of China.
Speaking during the launch of Heritage Month 2014, celebrated in the June, Lashley called for Bridgetown And Its Garrison, which received its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List two years ago, to be treasured, saying that role was not for the Government alone.
“Within Historic Bridgetown And Its Garrison, we have a number of priceless treasures. Buildings that tell the story of not only early Barbados, but the journey of those who have lived and worked in our World Heritage Property, and, without those stories being reinforced by the built heritage of Barbados, we would not be able to tell the very rich story of Barbados to young people.
“This is important because none of the objectives that we set out as Government can be met without our people understanding our real identity, our historical journey that have brought us where we are and understanding what treasures we have,” Lashley said.
In this regard, he revealed that plans were well advanced for the restoration of the Carnegie Building on Coleridge Street, which once housed the National Library Service and the Public Library.
“What we have agreed that we will do at the Cabinet level, because of the mammoth task that is before us in terms of preserving and certainly bringing back to the fore all of these national treasures, these buildings within our historic property, we will, very shortly present a project to a number of international financial agencies with a view to having the whole question of the preservation of these edifices being included in a project that can be properly funding and, certainly, properly executed,” the minister said.
He also said that the Task Force On The Preservation Of Built Heritage, headed by Senator Professor Henry Fraser, would also launch shortly, a national and international appeal to raise funds.
“The first building we will be focusing our attention on will be the Carnegie Building. I am sure that all of you would like to see the time when the library can return to its rightful place,” he said, adding that work was well on the way to preserving the building.
Lashley said an inspection of the building had already been done and Government was aware of what needed to be done to renovate the building. In addition, he said there was support forthcoming from the United States Embassy for the project which was “well on the road”.
“I don’t want to give you a date because when we give dates we are usually scolded, ‘How come it [is] not finished by that date, Minister?’.
“I assure that the technical work has started and very shortly we will be launching a local and international appeal not only on relation the Carnegie Building but other buildings as well, but we are taking this appeal beyond the shores of Barbados.
“We have already had two eminent gentlemen agreeing to be patrons of this effort. His Excellency the Governor General of Barbados has agreed to be the local patron and you have Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber who has agreed to be the international patron and I hope that we can conclude it very, very shortly,” the minister added.