NAPA-Setting the record straight with facts

NAPA – setting the record straight with facts.

Port of Spain, Trinidad

NAPA – Setting the record straight with facts.

  • The first major stakeholder consultations for the Performing Arts Academies took place as far back as 12 March 1988 at the Jean Pierre Sports Complex under the then-NAR Government. In 1990, a committee convened by the Prime Minister put forth a new plan for a National School for the Arts, Steel Band Theatre, an overall Creative Arts Gallery and administrative offices. When the Urban Development Corporation was formed in 1994 one of its first assignments was the design and construction of the National Academies for the Performing Arts based on the accumulated advice of concerned stakeholders. Consultations with stakeholders were also conducted by former Culture Minister Ms. Joan Yuille Williams. It’s clear that stakeholders have been valued participants all along and even under different governmental regimes.
  • Approximately TT $100 million in contracts were awarded to local subcontractors for various construction elements. All concrete and related works were contracted locally. Additionally, the suppliers of kitchen equipment and other significant components of the fit-out were purchased locally and installed by local labor.
  • Our experts estimate that 20,000 cubic meters of concrete were laid in the foundation, with every single pour inspected and signed off by the engineer of record. Concrete suppliers tested the strength of the concrete from every pour and reinforcing steel was similarly safety-checked. Project partners even tested the bearing capacity of the soil to ensure that the foundation will have sufficient strength. Geotechnical surveys undertaken also made certain that construction met all requirements.
  • All steel on the NAPA project was tested – over 250 tonnes – and every single weld was tested. The super-structure of the building included approximately 5 miles of welds that were safety-checked on a continual basis. The steel work was performed by Shanghai Construction and testing was carried out by qualified local contractors. International experts on the project chose a type of steel that was appropriate to the needs of the project and preferred for the seismic environment of Trinidad and Tobago – clearly meeting the international building codes. Almost all of this safety and quality-control work was performed by local contractors.
  • The loading areas of NAPA were designed for the needs of a learning academy. The facility is built specifically to give students the opportunity to construct large sets and structures inside the building. Even so, the loading areas of NAPA have been sufficient for major performances. These include multiple performances during CHOGM – with the loading in of dozens of steel pans, a 50-piece orchestra, large costumes and two grand pianos all at once.
  • The NAPA stage is modeled after world-class academic facilities like the performing arts academies of the Baltics, Shanghai and Chicago. The stage is intended to be so versatile that opportunities for expression are only limited by the stretch of an artiste’s imagination. Sixteen sets of curtains and large construction spaces offer students the ability to create any sort of space they desire.

Inter-disciplinary performance was the key factor in fitting out this academy, which has no equal in the Caribbean. The moving stage is designed to accommodate the quick movement of steel bands, orchestras, theatre performers and sets. The wood floor design facilitates dancing and high-impact performances, cushioning dancers to an extent that meets all expectations of a multi-use surface.

The performance space and seating capacity are considered well in line with benchmark venues of this nature – world-wide.

At NAPA there are spaces conducive to the layout of “black box” theatres, and it is left to the end-user to make decision as to the final use of each room.

The academy rooms are sound-proofed and the three multi-functional rooms are acoustically designed, stage lit and include small stage areas. These facilities are all considered useful for a variety of performing arts, based on the requisite needs of a teaching academy.

Rooms intended for dance instruction are fully equipped with appropriate vinyl flooring, and standard apparatus.

While there is not a specific outdoor amphitheatre, there are ample outdoor spaces and venues for potential outdoor productions. In a creative environment such as an academy for young artistes, we see every opportunity for students to pursue their artistic vision throughout the NAPA space.

World-class experts from outside contractors consulted on the sound and lighting installations and found them to be more than sufficient for a teaching environment. The equipment installed is intended to provide high-quality performance capabilities and a spring-board teaching environment.

All the components are in place to configure sound and light fixtures as needed. There is capacity to add even more stage-related elements depending on requirements of the user.

The “back of the house” area of the main theatre stage is replete with all standard elements. There are dozens of dressing and costuming spaces with lighting and facilities. Showers, clothing storage and restrooms are easily accessible back stage and on all levels of the facility.

Construction space and storage are designed for students to learn all aspects of performance production. The spaces are more than ample, as evidenced by the Brian MacFarlane CHOGM production, Dance Meh Lover and Chinese Ballet productions.

UDeCOTT is developing the structures that form part of Vision 2020, the national strategic development plan of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. UDeCOTT has over 60 projects, under construction and is launching future construction to include: The Port of Port of Spain expansion, the Development of Invaders Bay and the Urban Development Project. UDeCOTT and its leadership remain committed to improving the quality of life for the people of Trinidad and Tobago, the implementation of the government’s Vision 2020 plan and the development of the country as a regional and global leader. For more information about UDeCOTT, its leadership, or its projects, please visit