Charlestown, Nevis – The Cultural Village celebrated its renovation and grand reopening July 14 with a night of music, celebration and bingo to help usher in Culturama 43. The new complex featured upgraded stands for local merchants, a new VIP area and a renovated police post, among many other changes.

The night began with speeches by those who had been instrumental in the completion of the new village and a DJ mixing tracks together with announcements of future events at the festival. By the time bingo started, every seat in the village was taken and the crowd eagerly awaited the chance to win the grand prizes. A total of EC$15,000 was awarded to three lucky winners. The Grand Masters band served as the final act and entertained the crowd until morning.

“This project cost approximately EC$1.7 million and took approximately two months, with 10 contractors working simultaneously to achieve what all can agree is an outstanding project,” said assistant permanent secretary at the Ministry of Tourism, John Hanley, as he welcomed visitors to the village. “It was by no means an easy feat to get to this point, as it meant managing many different personalities, different points-of-view and constantly changing circumstances. In the end, all worked together toward a common goal of presenting to us a new and improved cultural village.”

Hanley explained that this project is essentially 22 years in the making, as from the start the concept of a cultural village was unique and valuable to Culturama and Nevis as a whole. The venue has been widely used since its incarnation, and that use made these changes necessary.

“Over time, few repairs were done to the village and it deteriorated to the point where it lost much of its attractiveness and appeal,” Hanley said. “As such, the late Carl Williams came up with the idea to renovate the village in time for the 2017 Culturama celebrations. The team came up with a design concept for a state of the art village, which was designed to have a Nevisian feel as well as a look that was distinct from any other entertainment facility on the island.”

The new village boasts 10 container booths established for local merchants who had been operating out of privately owned wooden booths. In addition, the stage was enhanced and enlarged and bathrooms were upgraded and installed both near the stage and the entrance. A police command point was installed on the second level of the container booths in order to give officers a view of the entire village from their outpost. The entrance courtyard was upgraded and landscaping projects were added throughout the village.

“I am certain that all can agree that the hard work that went into this project was worth every dollar spent from and on behalf of the good people of Nevis and we can now boast ownership of one of the finest entertainment facilities anywhere in the Caribbean,” Hanley said. “I must give thanks and recognition to all who labored feverishly to meet very tight deadlines. Kudos to my team for their efforts and I trust that this facility will last us for a very long time.”

After Hanley spoke, the minister of foreign affairs, the Honourable Mark Brantley, officially opened the new village.

“I want to welcome all of you here to our brand new cultural village,” he said. “I want to thank the teams that worked so hard, the young men and women who were here doing the painting and the cleaning and the tidying up. Every aspect of this facility was built by local people, for local people, helped by your local government and we’re very proud of what you see here because what you see here is demonstrative of what we can do with our own hands, build our own country, brick by brick.”

The celebration of Culturama 43 was in full effect on the night of the opening ceremony. Viewers packed into the village clutching snacks made by local merchants to see the changes made and experience a glimpse of what to come in this years festival.

“Culturama is well and truly on,” Brantley said. “Those who are accustomed for the revelry and the fete, I’m asking you to come out. Those who are not accustomed to come out, I’m still asking you to come out. I want this year to be the biggest Culturama we have ever seen. The whole idea is an emphasis on comfort, security and safety and to ensure you are permitted to party, enjoy yourselves and do so in an environment you can enjoy.”

Brantley went on to acknowledge the cabinet of the Nevis Island Administration for putting individual needs aside and recognizing the welfare of an upgraded Cultural Village. With those words, and thank-yous to all involved in the process of uplifting the are, the celebration was on.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to declare the brand new $1.7 million Culturama Village officially open,” Brantley said. “I pray and hope that this facility has many years of use and that the people of Nevis can be proud of it and take care of it. It was done for you, by you, and I welcome you to enjoy it and I trust and hope that all the vendors and everyone else has a wonderful time here at Culturama 43.”