Soaking up sun and culture this July

Central Bank covers admission charges for all Bahamians and residents at the NAGB next month

In true standing with its mission to serve as much as a reservoir for cultural wealth as monetary wealth, Central Bank of The Bahamas is encouraging the general public to use the summer holidays as an opportunity to soak up both the sun and some of the best in Bahamian culture and fine art. The bank has demonstrated its commitment to developing fine artists for more than three decades.

Under the governance of T. Baswell Donaldson, in the 1980s it began investing in artwork to adorn its headquarters downtown. Wanting to further the bank’s involvement in developing the country’s art movement, then Central Bank Governor Sir William Allen enlisted the help of artist Antonius Roberts, who spearheaded the bank’s annual competitions for high school students and artists under 26, respectively. In doing so, Central Bank hoped to encourage young Bahamians to pursue art while adding to its collection simultaneously.

Contest winners are selected by a panel of judges and receive cash prizes. Traditionally, the winning pieces of the High School and Open Category Competitions would also join the Central Bank collection. To encourage even more artists, the bank established its Governor’s Choice Award (GCA). At each competition, the bank’s governor selects his or her favorite piece, which then joins the bank’s collection.

With hopes of offering a continuous display of artwork to the public, the bank went a step further and repurposed its reception area on Market Street and Trinity Place into a gallery space. Continuing the mission, Central Bank is now encouraging locals to engage with other creative spaces; the bank has pledged to cover the cost of admission for Bahamians and residents throughout the month of July. In celebration of Bahamian independence, locals can demonstrate their patriotism by supporting Bahamian artists whose works are currently on display at the National Art Gallery. This is particularly true for younger and developing artists, who competed in the bank’s competitions and whose works have joined the bank’s collection.

“We would encourage more Bahamians to come away with a fuller appreciation for the arts—no matter what form, and really to see the arts as a worthwhile area to support, as the benefits go far beyond what is viewed—to the transformation and enrichment of our lives,” said Central Bank Governor Wendy Craigg.

During their visits, guests will have the opportunity to see samples of these works in the NAGB’s temporary exhibition Celebrating 40 Years of The Central Bank: A Pillar of Arts Commitment. Celebrating 40 Years features artwork documenting the bank’s history from its establishment to current day operations. The exhibition gives guests the opportunity to see early works from some of the country’s foremost artists, like Antonius Roberts and Dionne Benjamin Smith. These are shown alongside works by up-and-coming creatives whose talents have won the hearts of bank judges and governors.

“The exhibition at the NAGB showcases the journey of Bahamian art and artists through the past 40 years,” said Craigg. “It provides a unique opportunity for Bahamians to see works that are normally inaccessible to the public and to experience the cultural diversity and artistic richness of The Bahamas, through the eyes of a large number of signature Bahamian artists—many of whose works on display date back to their teenage years. This is quite an interesting historical perspective on the development and success of the visual arts in The Bahamas.”

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Throughout the month of July, Bahamians and residents enjoy free access to the art galleries, every day of the week – except Monday, when the gallery is closed – courtesy of Central Bank of The Bahamas. To find out more about the NAGB, visit its website at or Facebook page, or call 328-5800.