NAPA tension led to resignation
Sunday, March 21 2010
FORMER Associate provost at the University of Trinidad and Tobago Professor Ken Ramchand quit the post in June last year amidst concerns over how UTT President Ken Julien was handling plans for the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA).
According to sources, Ramchand turned his back on a post which attracted a salary of $50,000 per month after he became concerned that Julien was neglecting plans for a proposed building to house the UTT’s Academy of Letters at Wallerfield in favour of the NAPA, a project which the UTT staff themselves did not have input into.
The UTT was announced as the administrator for the project since 2007. Yet, at a meeting with stakeholders interested in the project, in February 2007, Ramchand told the interim president of the Artists Coalition of Trinidad and Tobago ACTT that the UTT Academy had no input in the project.
Contacted yesterday, Ramchand said, “We did invite the ACTT to the academy because we wanted to get their input in relation to another project, the planned Academy of Letters building at Wallerfield. Rubadiri raised the point of NAPA. But we told him we had no influence on plans for NAPA at all.”
Ramchand would not comment on the circumstances surrounding his resignation, but sources noted that the NAPA project was among several sources of tension between himself and Julien.
In a press release yesterday, Rubadiri Victor, the author of an ACTT report on the flaws at NAPA, noted that in 2007, “ACTT decided to engage the UTT in the consultation process as they had recently taken over the custodianship of NAPA.”
“For two years stakeholders had been publicly pressing the Government to reveal who would administrate NAPA knowing that they had no plans whatsoever. Under scrutiny and knowing that the Ministry of Culture had no competency to run any Academy the Prime Minister (Patrick Manning) implored the UTT to take over the two NAPAs,” Victor said.
“The UTT initially refused as all they were prepared to administrate was the Wallerfield Academy of Letters. The administration of $2 billion institutions matriculating thousands of students was a massive addition to their workload.”
Victor also noted the failure of Udecott to show artists plans for the NAPA, the failure of the state to make adequate consultation and reports of artists being victimised for being critical of the building.
Victor said in March 2006 he was due to speak at a UWI lecture when he was pushed off the slate of speakers after it was learnt he would speak about NAPA and another project, the National Carnival Centre. Ramchand yesterday noted that around 2008 he had tried to get Victor a position at the UTT, but he was prevented from doing so.
“I had wanted him on council,” Ramchand said, “but there were objections.”
The ACTT this month released a dossier critical of NAPA. The dossier has triggered further criticism of the NAPA building, a Udecott project, from the artists community.