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Feb 25, 2003

Bliss Institute, House of Culture get facelift

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If you’ve walked along Belize City’s Southern Foreshore recently, you will have noticed that something’s not quite right. That’s what Jacqueline Woods did, but upon closer inspection she discovered that while things may look topsy-turvy, all the commotion is for a worthy cause.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

It took about three and a half years to work out the details, but finally, the old Bliss Institute is being partially demolished to be replaced with a state of the art national theatre. The House of Culture, formerly Government House, is also being remodelled to reverse the decay accumulated over several decades.

Lita Krohn, Project Coordinator

“There was so much paper work, so much paper work. But it’s one of those few projects that we can say, this one, is not a political hurry up job. This has been in the works for at least three and a half years and we are so pleased that they are finally coming on stream.”

It will take another year before construction on both historical buildings is completed. The work is being done by DELTA, a Mexican construction company, and supervised by Belizean architect Julius Espat. Espat says not all of the old Bliss Institute will be torn down.

Julius Espat, Supervising Architect

“What you are seeing right now is the portion that will be left and then it will be annexed to this, the new construction. The demolition is basically completed right now.”

“It’s basically a three storey high building. It’s an auditorium, theatre for six hundred and twenty people, very modern on the inside, and it has certain features that will fall within the natural architecture of Belize City.”

At the House of Culture, the emphasis is on restoring the old Government House to its former splendour.

Lita Krohn

“There is a lot demolition, and if you look really…I know some people are upset to see a lot of lumber and walls going down, but if you look closely at it, it was rotten, all sorts of things.”

“The plan for Government House/House of Culture is for it to have a colonial collection, people want to see what used to go on there. And really and truly, there isn’t that much furniture, but whatever was there in the last three and a half years should come back. We’re hoping to have a national collection of paintings. I’m not sure where that would be, but I feel the House of Culture would be a good place, because then Belizeans, as well as tourists would have a reason for going there, to see the Colonial collection, and to see the national collection, like maybe all our thirty top artists; there’d be a reason to go there to visit. And of course, for Belizeans it’s a beautiful garden. We hope people will still have their weddings and their receptions and our jazz concerts there.”

…And until the public can enjoy the benefits of both cultural projects, we are asked to exercise a little bit of patience. Jacqueline Woods for News 5.

The two projects will cost a total of five million dollars. Financing comes from a loan provided by the Mexican financial institution, Bancomex, in conjunction with the Government of Belize.

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