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L-r front: Hon. Minister Tara Rivers, Paul Pearson (Co-Owner, Davenport Development), Chief Officer Christen Suckoo, George Town Primary School  Parent Teachers Association President Cheyenna Stewart.
L-r back: Ken Thompson (Co-Owner, Davenport Development), Wanda Thompson (Co-Owner, Davenport Development), Chief Education Officer Lyneth Monteith, Dr. Randall Pinder (Co-Owner, Davenport Development), George Town Primary School Deputy Principal Dorothy Wilson.

Published 17th May 2016, 11:45am

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands – A new children’s performing arts centre is to be built at George Town Primary School in a public-private partnership.

The facility, known as “black box theatre”, will be the first dedicated space of its kind in the Cayman Islands and will be available for use by other schools and for community events.

Built to hurricane-resistant standards, the centre will also double as a shelter during emergencies.

The project is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Education and a consortium of local partners led by Davenport Development.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) to take the project forward was signed on Friday, 22 April by Chief Officer Christen Suckoo and Cheyenna Stewart, president of the George Town Primary School Parent Teachers Association.

“We are absolutely delighted to announce this exciting new performing arts centre for George Town Primary School,” said Minister for Education, Hon. Tara Rivers, who was on hand to witness the MoU being signed. “This is a great example of how government and the private sector can work together for the betterment of our community and provide first-class facilities for our young people.”

Mr. Suckoo also commended the initiative between government and the private sector.

“The performing arts play an important role in our national curriculum and it gives me great pleasure to know that we will have this state-of-the-art facility at George Town Primary school,” he said.

Plans for the centre have been ongoing for some time, with Davenport Development putting forward the proposal as a charitable initiative. They have been supported by Flowers Foam, Cox Lumber, A. L. Thompson’s and Supermix Concrete, which have all donated supplies for the project free of cost.

Work on the performing arts centre, which also includes an upgraded generator facility to serve the entire school, is scheduled to take place during the school summer holidays.

“Myself and co-owner Ken Thompson are very happy that plans have now come to fruition and we look forward to attending the first play or recital that the children hold in the centre,” said Paul Pearson, co-owner of Davenport Development.

The performing arts centre has removable staging to accommodate many different types of performances.

“It will offer opportunities to all of Cayman's children whether through summer camps, after-school programmes or a central location for school concerts and performances,” said Ms Stewart. “We envision exciting things for this facility that will align with the national curriculum in relation to music and the performing arts.”

The PTA still has CI$80,000 to raise towards its $100,000 goal for the sound, video, lighting and curtain system, as well as new instruments and a piano for the centre.

“We look to the community for support in helping us now that the contracts have been signed and a commitment has been made to build the centre this summer,” added Ms. Stewart. “This is a project that will cater to our very young to give them opportunities they may never have otherwise been afforded.”

George Town Primary School Principal Marie Martin commented that performing arts play a key role in students’ personal development.

“The performing arts have been shown to help raise achievement across the curriculum by working in symbiosis with other subjects, such as English, humanities and science, to provide rich educational opportunities for our students,” she said. “We will forever be indebted to Davenport and the other supporting companies for this act of kindness.”