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Montego Bay, Jamaica, March 1, 2014: Creative arts in the second city will get a major boost by mid-year when the Montego Bay Civic Centre is converted into a major cultural centre that will also serve as the nation's second art gallery.
Hotelier Josef Forstmayr heads the Montego Bay Arts Council which is charged with overseeing the overall development of the civic centre into the Montego Bay Cultural Centre housing a permanent art gallery under the auspices of the Institute of Jamaica and the National Heritage Trust.
The facility will also house a bistro at which only top of the line Jamaican products will be sold.
Conversion of the civic centre is proceeding apace under the supervision of Project Co-ordinator Millard Wright who informed Tourism and Entertainment Minister, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, during a tour on Thursday that it work should be completed in another two months.
The project is being funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund to the tune of $42 million.
Welcoming the development, Member of Parliament for Central St. James, Lloyd B. Smith, said “downtown Montego Bay will take on a special look when that particular project is completed and we are most grateful to the TEF.”
During a stop at the Montego Bay Crafts Village, Minister McNeill and his touring party were entertained by cultural artiste “Upside Down” who performed a variety of acts, including dancing on broken bottles and fire dancing.
Cabinet has approved the contract for $44 million upgrading of the market starting in three weeks, financed by the TEF and Minister McNeill told the craft traders that they would have to start doing things differently and more professionally. He said a new craft policy was being developed in consultation with the traders “to deal with how this industry is going to be governed” and a regulatory authority is to be put in place.
Also visited on the tour was the restoration of historical monument, The Dome, at Jackson Town which marks the site of Montego Bay’s first domestic water supply. While the $8 million is nearing completion, Minister McNeill said additional work would be done to landscape the surrounding environment.