A HISTORIC MOMENT
It is a known fact that human kind can never imprison or tame time. Time moves
at its own pleasing, unfettered and without restrictions. Yet, it is the passage
of time that provides occasions for the making of history and for historic
moments. Today, the passage of time has made it possible for us to record yet
another historic moment - a historic moment which, in its wake, is giving rise
to a novel and innovative concept in port development - a concept which is far
removed from the traditional activities usually associated with port
development. Our presence here is not to celebrate the opening of a newly
constructed wharf, a new crane or the instituting of new security devices. The
occasion is a lot more momentous because it gives meaning to a philosophy which
seeks to create a novel port experience for visitors and locals alike.
We are here to celebrate the establishment of the Animation Centre. We are here
to recognize the benefits of an integrated approach to development. This
ceremony makes clear the benefits of creating synergies and symbiotic
relationships between key agencies involved in driving the developmental
process. It is a reminder that organisations and institutions must work in
unison and create bonds which will redound to the well being of the individual
agencies and the country as a whole. Where common ground exists, we must find
and exploit it.
A VISIONARY AND CREATIVE THINKER
The Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority and the Tourist Board did find and
exploit that common ground. The creation of the Animation Centre is largely the
product of a cooperative and collaborative effort between these two agencies.
While SLASPA is the custodian of the nation’s ports of entry, ensuring the safe
and secure movement of persons and goods, the Saint Lucia Tourist Board is
principally responsible for marketing Saint Lucia’s tourism product in the major
tourist markets. Yet there is no divergence between their goals and interests.
They are inter-governmental agencies with complementary rather than adversarial
But SLASPA did not act spontaneously. SLASPA was inspired by a visionary, a
creative genius and a futurist in the persona of the late Desmond Adrian Skeete.
He was allowed the opportunity to harness the complementary relations in
existence between these two agencies. This masterpiece, this Animation Centre is
the brainchild of his creative thinking and foresight and his ability to build
bridges and partnerships across agencies.
While occupying the seat of Chairman of both the Tourist Board and Anchorage
Investment Limited and simultaneously serving as a Council member of the Saint
Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority, he had a unique opportunity to crystallize a
vision as to how new innovations in port development could best serve the
interest of Saint Lucia’s tourism product. He was not simply contended with
pioneering new marketing initiatives designed to increase tourist arrivals to
our shores but he wanted to create for them an unforgettable experience and
quality reception on par with those experienced elsewhere.
His unwavering commitment and determination to harness the resources of these
agencies to benefit Saint Lucia’s overall developmental objectives led him to
persuade SLASPA to commission a study to determine the future development of the
Castries Seaport. The study revealed that optimal use should be made of the
prime real estate that housed the general and containerised cargo operations at
Port Castries. It was agreed that Port Castries should be transformed into an
inner harbour with cargo operations being relocated elsewhere.
Fortuitously, the study commissioned by the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports
Authority coincided with a Government of Saint Lucia commissioned study which
was undertaken by a team of experts primarily to prepare a developmental plan
for the City of Castries up to the year 2020. Their recommendation that Port
Castries should be transformed into an inner port was consistent with SLASPA’s
own vision for the development of the Port.
From then onwards, SLASPA has remained true to the fulfilment and pursuit of
that vision. Consequently, it purchased the properties on the east side of
Ganters Bay, the former Art Printery and the building that formerly housed the
offices of WIBDECO on Manoel Street.
NEED FOR INSTITUTIONAL STRENGTHENING
To manage these new real estate assets, SLASPA created a subsidiary property
management company, Anchorage Investments Limited or ANCIL for short. The first
Chairman of the Board of ANCIL was Mr. Desmond Skeete and deservedly so.
With the approval and support of the Government of Saint Lucia, SLASPA and ANCIL
demolished the Art Printery building to facilitate the expansion of La Place
Carenage to provide additional space for duty free shopping and for the
establishment of the Animation Centre.
BIRTH OF ANIMATION CENTRE
The Animation Center, technically categorized as an “immersion theatre” is a
novel concept for this region. It is a living space for the entrapment of Saint
Lucian history and culture. This ultra modern theatre will electronically
dramatize a series of memorable historical and cultural events, including the
reenactment of the history and culture of the northwestern section of Saint
Lucia and the Castries Seaport. I hope, in time, the experiences of our people
in other parts of our island will be chronicled and shared.
The Theatre will utilise state-of-the-art audio, video and special effects
technology to dramatise and vividly recreate and present various historical
events. The twenty-minute presentation spans the creation of the island from its
volcanic beginnings to the modern Jazz Festival at Pigeon Island. During the
intervals there will be graphic presentations of the Anglo-French wars, the
ravaging fires that destroyed Castries and the hurricanes that left trails of
devastation in their wake. Battle sequences, troop movements and the bombing of
the Umtata and Lady Nelson will all come alive and be choreographed from a
specially prepared script.
The technological transfers to be realized as a result of this project will be
phenomenal. It will be consistent with the modernization process and provides
opportunities for our people to acquire new skills. The technology you will
experience here later, is on a comparable scale to what attains at the Disney
Parks, Disney Land and Disney World in California and Florida respectively, and
the John Hancock Centre in Boston, Massachusetts.
INSPIRED BY SAINT LUCIANS
Saint Lucians played an integral part in the development of this Animation
Centre. It is our creation. The input for the show was prepared, produced and
directed by Saint Lucians. Mr. Adrian Augier and Mr. Robert Devaux prepared the
script. They were ably supported in the area of historical research by another
Saint Lucian historian residing in the USA, Professor Barry Gaspard. The voices
of the characters featured in the presentations are all voices of Saint Lucians.
The musical accompaniment was composed and produced by the incomparable Barbara
Cadet and Ronald Boo Hinkson. Vocals on the theme song are by Saint Lucian
artistes Martin Dorville and Jason Alcide.
FINANCING OF PROJECT
This project may not have been possible without the financial backing of the
Bank of Nova Scotia. The Bank of Nova Scotia financed the project at an overall
cost of EC$3.5 million. The construction of the space was undertaken by Metro
Construction of Saint Lucia. The firm STech & Associates constructed the Theatre
in association with MDesigns both out of the USA. The model was built in the US
and was assembled in St. Lucia. These companies are highly specialised and their
senior personnel have had experience in constructing theme parks all over the
USA. Some of them have actually worked with Disney Productions.
Although the Animation Centre is the centrepiece of La Place Carenage, Desmond
harboured apprehensions that the facility did not lend itself properly to the
themes of the Theatre. He envisaged La Place Carenage as a seamless, memorable
experience rather than a disjointed shopping experience. He saw the Animation
Centre as embodying a wholesome Saint Lucian heritage for which the entire mall
should be devoted. As a result, La Place Carenage is re-branded as a “themed”
mall which will provide an experience found no where else. This entire
experience has since been named the “Iyanola Experience”, which, I hope, you
will take the opportunity to enjoy after this ceremony.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL EXPERIENCE
The Animation Centre concept is much more than theatre presentations. The
Iyanola Experience is configured to include an archaeological and historical
exhibition on the outer room of the top floor where the Animation Centre is
located. That exhibition depicting the history and evolution of our people has
been put together in collaboration with the Archaeological & Historical Society.
The Saint Lucia National Trust also contributed to this project by making
available pictures of historical significance, lending to the enhancement of the
experience. All of this confirms that the establishment of the Animation Centre
drew upon the inspiration, experience and knowledge of a wide cross section of
Saint Lucian society. In light of that, the Animation Centre is truly the
culmination of a national effort which highlights the maturity and commitment of
our people to national development.
A DESERVING ACCOLADE
There is no one more deserving of accolades for his role in bring to fruition
the Animation Centre than the late Desmond Skeete. From conception he championed
the virtues of this concept. He pioneered and developed the Iyanola Experience.
The Government of Saint Lucia is very grateful to Desmond for his relentless
pursuit of such a remarkable, valuable and long-lasting monument. It is a
monument both to Saint Lucia and to his creative spirit, genius and imagination.
Time and fate both conspired to take him from us before this project was
completed but I know he is watching from some secret location and must share in
the sense of pride and joy that we all feel. The Government has no hesitation in
endorsing the decision of the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority to name
the Centre, The Desmond Skeete Animation Centre as a fitting tribute to a
FOR SAINT LUCIANS AND VISITORS
This Animation Centre was conceived for Saint Lucians as well as visitors.
Although a fee will apply, SLASPA and ANCIL will, I hope provide separate
packages for school children, the underprivileged and our senior citizens. None
of our citizens must be excluded from the Iyanola Experience. I exhort all
school principals to make the Centre a “must see” for students because it will
present for them a more rounded perspective on Saint Lucian history and culture.
Through animation they will discover what they would have otherwise read in
I wish to congratulate the Council, Management and Staff of SLASPA for this
excellent project. I am certain it will serve Saint Lucia very well now and in
the future. The Government of Saint Lucia also recognises the contributions of
all the other persons who worked on this project and brought it to fruition. It
is therefore with an immense sense of overall satisfaction that I now declare
the Desmond Skeete Animation Centre open.
In keeping with the new tag line for the facility let’s all “share the
I thank you.