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Address by Prime Minister Dr. Kenny D. Anthony at launching of SLASPA's animation centre

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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.


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 roles.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 departed visionary.


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 books.

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 heritage”.

I thank you.


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