‘Not true’: Kingston’s Mayor rejects claims that sections of Ward Theatre being scrapped

Sections of the Ward Theatre in downtown Kingston during a tour of the facility by the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) earlier this week (Photo: Twitter @MayorWilliamsJA)

Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams is denying allegations that the company contracted to renovate the iconic Ward Theatre has failed to retain the building’s historic aesthetic.

Senator Williams, responding to an article from the Jamaica Gleaner, said that the removal of the opera pit – the source of the contention on social media – was necessary to facilitate the clearing of a fence infested by termites.

“Contrary to the inaccurate Gleaner publication; we HAVE consulted on the orchestra pit both locally and internationally. We received recommendations which brought us to 1 conclusion re the pit, that it was a bit small. The plan is to expand the orchestra pit! Not remove it!!!” he posted on Twitter.

In the Gleaner article, celebrated conductor Peter Ashbourne slammed the team undertaking Ward Theatre’s multimillion-dollar overhaul, arguing that the famed theatre would be reopened with the feel of a ‘cinema instead of a world-class performance space’.

“The ‘Buttus’ have sought to give a lot of time, resources and thought to the renovations while critics prefer to scavenge its remains. The Ward Theatre is not here to be picked apart or pocketed by those with knowledge of its valuable pieces. While their commentary is always welcomed; their motives and propaganda will not be seated. We have been very accommodating and will answer questions,” the mayor added.

The Ward Theatre (Photo contributed)

Williams, who provided a tour of the ongoing renovations, also shared images of the opera, showing where the termite-infested fence once stood, and the work being done to restore the area to a greater capacity.

“The Orchestra Pit, the section pictured just in front the stage, was surrounded by termite-infested wood. We removed the woodwork along with the boards in the seating area and had the area treated/sprayed,” Mayor Williams tweeted.

Mayor of Kingston, Senator Delroy Williams (Photo: JIS)

“It has always been, as far back as 2017, the conclusion that we expand the Orchestra Pit. We are also considering the option of leaving the pit as is, based on fact that expansion would mean a loss of some seating space however scrapping the pit was never an option,” he added.