Renowned musical composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber wants to start a fund to honour individuals making major contributions to restoration and preservation of historic buildings in Barbados.
Baron Lloyd-Webber last night announced his desire to fund such a project honouring private persons and companies at the launch of the National Restoration Programme For Barbados’ Built Heritage and the Preservation For Barbados Foundation Trust, of which he and Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave are the patrons.
The trust, launched at Ilaro Court, is a charity intended to receive donations for funding the upkeep of many of Barbados’ historic buildings, some of which are listed in the UNESCO World Heritage.
But Lloyd-Webber spoke of a need to go beyond the institutional supporters of the trust and devise a scheme for encouraging private individual and corporate effort in a manner similar to a scheme he started years ago in England that has now grown into a glitzy affair spreading across Britain.
“It seems to me that a similar idea could be done here, and I would very much like to throw bread on the water and to say that my art foundation will be very happy to fund it,” Lloyd-Webber said to an audience including Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and fellow trust patron Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave.
“And what would be wonderful is if the people on the island who were themselves doing something for historic buildings were recognized. I don’t know how it could be done here because it is a different environment from where we are in Britain, but I’d like to share my passion by offering my help.”
Lloyd-Webber, who confessed to having architecture as his first love before moving on to music, recalled years ago encountering persons in Britain who were restoring historic buildings with no government support, “but off their own back”, and coming up with the idea to have “a posh ceremony just like the Oscars or Emmy Awards” to honour top contributors with titles such as The Best Restoration Of An Industrial Building.
“We started with a small audience, but last year we built up to a packed house,” he said of the annual ceremony for which awardees are nominated in similar fashion to the Oscars. “It has been a fantastic and rather snowballing success. We started in England; this year Scotland comes on board . . . and Wales is now coming on board.
“I just wanted to mention it because it has worked very well in Britain, and what it does is that it encourages local communities to themselves take initiative with the buildings . . . . If you can get people to be proud of something which is in their own particular area, and then you could recognize it, it is very helpful.”
Admitting to a passion for architecture (“my ambition was to become the Chief Inspector of Great Monuments in Britain, which is now called English Heritage”), the best known name in theatrical music composition, said of the Barbados historical construction landscape: “I’ve become very struck by the buildings here, and I’ve become very struck by the potential for restoration here.
“I took a walk around Bridgetown the other day . . . and I said to Paul [Altman], ‘You know the first thing that needs to be done here is to curb the cars and pedestrianize it’.
“If we have to have the cars, let’s try and keep them at bay, because there are wonderful buildings here. There is a remarkable heritage of buildings here that urgently need restoration
“When you get into Bridgetown itself you can see the huge potential there would be, particularly if you are arriving by sea . . . . I would beg that it is pedestrianized because it could be a little bit thrilling.”