Nowhere is that more apparent than in the splendid Martinique cultural centre called L'Atrium.
Completed in 1998 and conceived by Fanny Augiac the Directrice of Martinique's national cultural agency (known as CMAC - Centre Martiniquais d'Action Culturelle) this multipurpose facility contains two concert halls, an art gallery, rehearsal spaces, a cafe and large open corridors for exhibitions.
All of this is surrounded on the upper floors by CMAC's administrative offices.
|A panoramic shot taken from my position during sound check for a recent Fal Frett concert|
The larger of the two concert halls is called the Salle Aimé Césaire and has 957 seats arranged on a ground floor, side 'boxes' and balcony. The smaller hall, called the Salle Frantz Fanon has 270 seats.
What I find very clever about the building's design is that the two concert halls are situated on opposite sides of a huge shared central stage. The Atrium's official website lists the hall's stage areas as 420 and 225 square meters respectively, however I've observed that there are huge movable walls dividing the stage that can be set to create different stage depths on each side. The Larger hall has excellent wings, (The stage doors could probably accommodate a cement truck!), plenty of room for sets and the lighting can easily be adjusted by lowering the lighting rigs located above the stage. The stage's dividing walls are acoustically treated allowing events to be staged in each hall simultaneously.
|A panoramic view taken while undergoing sound check|
In the downstairs foyer of the L'Atrium is a ticket office, an art gallery, a cafe, open corridors for exhibitions of large sculptures and elevators to the offices above.
On many occasions I have had the pleasure of both performing and attending concerts in this hall and I've always found the acoustics to be very pleasing.
Whenever I return home from a performance in L'Atrium, I can't help but wonder when, if ever we might create a similar structure in Barbados. After hearing for the past 25 years, the empty words of successive Barbadian governments promising the creation of a reasonably sized performing hall, I no longer think that any government in Barbados has the motivation or vision to create a Barbadian "Atrium". If we in the arts wish to see this happen then we can't wait on a government initiative. We need a Barbadian "Fanny Augiac", cooperation between the private sector, government and all those involved in the arts, and of course a significant financial investment.
Who knows maybe one day in the future, a musician in another island will blog about his visit to a wonderful center for the performing arts in Barbados