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Visitors Flock To Montego Bay Cultural Centre

Visitors Flock To Montego Bay Cultural Centre
Operations Manager at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Hillary Clarke (centre), fields questions during a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank held at the agency’s Montego Bay Regional Office on Union Street on March 27. She is flanked by Senior Curator National Museum, David Stimpson (left); and Senior Curator, National Gallery Jamaica, O’Neil Lawrence.

KINGSTON (JIS) -- Tourists and locals are flocking to the Montego Bay Cultural Centre to experience the wide array of cultural and artistic displays. Operations Manager at the facility, Hillary Clarke, said the number of visitors range from between 800 and 1,000 per month “which continues to grow based on the aggressive marketing we have been doing”. She noted that since November last year, there has been an increase in tourists, which she attributes to the marketing and promotions that are also geared at attracting overseas visitors. Ms. Clarke was speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank at the agency’s Montego Bay Regional Office located on Union Street on March 27. Opened in 2014, through support from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), the Montego Bay Cultural Centre is dedicated to the retention of Jamaica’s rich history and the promotion and development of its artistic treasures.

It houses the National Gallery West, which is an extension of the National Gallery of Jamaica; National Museum West, featuring a permanent Museum of History, complete with ancient artefacts, a resource centre, among other features.

Ms. Clarke said the facility can comfortably accommodate up to 250 persons.

“We are a licensed attraction that gets visitors from both the cruise ships and the hotels. We are also at the point now where schools have integrated into their curriculum visits to the centre, so as to apprise students as to the history and culture we have on display there,” she pointed out.

She said that in addition to the displays, the aesthetics of the centre offer a “wow factor”, which makes people eager to return and also recommend the facility to others.

“We are cognisant of the fact that museums and cultural centres are usually considered boring, so we try to spruce up our activities and make the visits as exciting as possible. I can safely say, though, that once you are inside the facility, there will be every reason to want to come back and also to go out and spread the good word,” she said.

The entrance fee is $400 for locals and US$8 for overseas guests. School groups, as well as teachers, are allowed free access, while there is a concessionary fee for cruise passengers, resulting from a contractual arrangement.

Senior Curator in charge of the National Gallery West, O’Neil Lawrence, said that on display are “abridged versions of exhibitions that we have in Kingston that have been critically acclaimed, or we have exhibitions that have been specifically curated for our western audience”.

“Our mandate is to serve all of Jamaica, making everyone aware of our rich cultural heritage in regard to the visual arts,” he pointed out.

The Montego Bay Cultural Centre sits at the southwest corner of Sam Sharpe Square.

The elegant, cut-stone building is located on the site of a ruined colonial courthouse, where trials were held in the wake of the Christmas Rebellion of 1831 and where National Hero Sam Sharpe and others were sentenced.

The Freedom Monument located in the rear cobblestone area of the centre chronicles the names of those who were hanged for their participation in the Christmas Rebellion, including Sharpe.

Opening hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm, Tuesdays to Sundays.