By Malika N Pryor
At the NAGB, we’d like to think that every special event we hold is one-of-a-kind. However, Friday April 6th, 2018 was particularly spectacular as it marked the naming ceremony and formal opening of Fiona’s Theatre. The only amphitheatre in New Providence, the bowl shaped auditorium is a part of a long and storied history that ties its earliest recorded use to its current purpose.
For more than two years, the NAGB has been working in partnerships - both formal and informal - to enhance the accessibility of its campus by increasing it in both size and diversity of use. By first securing the adjacent property some years before and then engaging its improvement–what was for several years, perhaps decades, abandoned and misused–the property slowly transformed into the burgeoning NAGB Sculpture Garden. Now featuring three installations, dozens of native tree species and community farm element that will be managed by the NAGB’s new Junior Arts Council, what was once a hotspot for nearby thieves has transformed into an open and increasingly vibrant space.
Adjacent to the garden is Fiona’s Theatre, which was imagined first by a young architect and Alexiou & Co. The idea was shared by NAGB Director, Amanda Coulson with a family that had graciously donated to the museum in the past. Intended to be a sharing of vision rather than “an ask” as non-profit professionals in development would say, the donors, who prefer anonymity, made a determination that surprised Coulson and would facilitate a new and energised space for the NAGB to share with the surrounding community and all of The Bahamas.
However, more than two centuries ago the very same property served nearby communities like Bain and Grants Town and beyond. Once linked to The Bahamas’ first African hospital, the property, which sits against the eastern wall of Hospital Lane provided services to Black Bahamians that were made unavailable to them at other health centres on New Providence. Recorded on island maps as early as 1760, the facility was one of healing, where some of the very same plants growing in Sculpture Garden might have been put to good use. The structure, which anchors the amphitheatre is believed to be the last original building connected to the now fabled locale.
How fitting then that the opening of the theatre would be filled with perhaps the world’s most common form of therapy and reason for communal gathering - music. Diverse and dynamic, as the works performed ranged from Mozart to Junkanoo, the air was filled with joy, love, and memory.
Fiona’s Theatre, which is named for the late daughter of the incredibly generous family that made it possible, seats 200 guests who will now have the opportunity to engage other dynamic arts expression including, poetry, theatre and much more. Since the naming ceremony, the already beloved theatre has hosted the NAGB’s monthly film series. On April 27th, 2018, the museum will premiere its first ever all campus event, “Friday Night Live!” The event will feature live entertainment, special tours of our latest exhibition, a drop-in workshop, drawing the galleries and more.
To discover more about Fiona’s Theatre as well as how you may want to engage the NAGB to create something special, contact Communications & Development Officer, Malika Pryor-Martin at email@example.com. For more on our upcoming events, visit nagb.org.bs