The Empire Cinema, Bridgetown, Barbados

Waiting patiently to be beautiful again

I just had to show you some of what I’ve been getting involved with out here in Barbados. I’ve blogged before about what was the old Empire Cinema in Bridgetown and want to tell you a little more about it. I had passed by this jaw-droppingly beautiful building many times over the years and one day couldn’t resist the urge to get inside to photograph. Since then I’ve been back to photograph several times & I have donated the images to a very special foundation created to save the majestic Empire. The photographs have been used on their website and in their promotional material.

BEAT Barbados are tirelessly campaigning to bring the Empire back and plan to transform it into a state of the art yet sympathetically restored centre for performing arts. If it goes ahead, The Empire could be the leading entertainment venue in the Caribbean! CEO and Founder of BEAT Barbados, Jim McGowan (seen below exploring the projection room in inappropriate footwear for such an activity) has dedicated the past two years of his life to persuading government to back his proposal, along with getting plenty of financial backing to make this happen. Some extremely well known celebrities are among those championing the project. The Empire is causing a real buzz in its own crumbly, silent and patient way.

As we stand, the Barbados Government is considering two proposals, The Empire – Theatre & Performing Arts Centre or….The Empire – A Micro Brewery. What do you think? Feel free to comment below, hope you like the images and find out more at BEAT Barbados here…

The Empire Cinema, Barbados

The Projection Room high up in the balcony.

When the Empire was originally a theatre this was through the left stage door. You can just make out a hand painted movie poster from the seventies on the right.

The side view of The Empire. If BEAT gets the go-ahead there will be a beautiful atrium added to this side of the building along with a gorgeous open plan space to breeze around in during the interval…

Stage Door

One of the three doors ‘backstage’, you can see the existing original balcony through the open doorway. The balcony would be sympathetically restored complete with new contemporary bar, cafe and rooftop terrace.

This is one of the old ticket ‘offices’.

Up in the projection room we found the old switch for opening and closing the curtains for the cinema screen.

The Empire Cinema Barbados

Some original seats up in the right hand side of the balcony. The Empire has lost a lot of its roof making it rather rotten and treacherous.  Standing there I could imagine the place crying out for help…I know, I get very emotionally attached.

Jim McGowan spending time in the place that has taken over his life for the past two years. With Jim’s passion, excitement and sheer tenacity this dream could become reality, giving Barbados & its people a place to be really proud of.

What do you think should happen to The Empire?  Speak your mind below…

Comments

  1. Stunning, poignant and alarming photos Kelly Jo! Every month that the government procrastinates on making a decision adds a thousand more to the restoration cost!
    But what a stunning building it would be fully restored!

  2. We are amazed that the Government would be so negligent and derelict in allowing a treasure like this to literally rot away. If anyone can restore this building and bring back a vision of hope for theater, I would suggest that Jim McGowan is the one to succeed in this endeavor.

    What is really sad is the idea of converting this into a mini brewery. Is that what the Barbadian Government sees as serving the locals and especially the tourists who bring their vacation dollars to help improve the economy of the Island. This is a sad refrain on Governance!

    To Kelly Jo, your photography is amazing… I can’t wait to see your collage of the finished theater.

  3. Absolutely gorgeous. Also… weirdly haunting?!