Friday 21 September, 2018

FRC holds on to hope as it moves to new home

Forced out of their home on Mount Pleasant, Calvary Sunday night when it was destroyed by fire, the Folk Research Center (FRC) has taken up residence at the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF).

The CDF, which is about a five minute walk from Mount Pleasant, has offered space, large enough where Executive Director Hilary La Force and his staff could set up office.

"The building is gone but the institution has to continue its work and we really want to laud the CDF, which has just agreed to provide office space. So we are going to move down here, we are going to bring our staff down here, we’re putting our telephone systems, we’re putting whatever we can, so that the work continues,” Founding Director Monsignor Patrick Anthony said.

To prove how much the destructive fire had not hampered the work of the FRC, Anthony spoke of a programme operated by the FRC for children keeping its Monday afternoon schedule.

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“Our children are coming this afternoon for the program. It continues. We want everybody to know that we were planning a St. Lucia studies conference in June. We want the Studies’ conference now to become refocused on the rebuilding of FRC, reshaping, redirecting, so we are going to transform the part of our studies conference into a national consultation,” he said.

Anthony called on the nation to be part of a new direction for the FRC and also for the digitalization of the country’s archives.

“So we’re going to transform our studies’ conference into a national consultation on the way forward for the FRC…and give you St. Lucians an opportunity to participate in that exercise of planning, strategizing for the future of St. Lucian culture,” he added.

Admitting that the FRC had lost irreplaceable material Monsignor Anthony held out hope that not all its materials were lost.

“We have lost material that is irreplaceable. However, because of our partnership with international institutions, certain projects that were done with us, for example the University of Vienna had done a research project with FRC, and they have their copies of all the documentation that was done. They gave us copies for ourselves, these are lost, but fortunately they have their copies,” he said.

He referenced the University of Indiana, USA which has done work with the FRC and foresees accessing copies of the work from the university.

“So again, in the midst of this darkness, this dreadful moment, we can still see the rainbow, we can still see light but we need your support, we need your help, to be able to do all the kind of things we want to do, particularly our own digitization. And that’s a very painful one for me because since 2003, yes 2003, we have been presenting proposals to digitize everything we have. Nobody has come forward. Everybody has a different priority,” he said.

Anthony believes that Sunday night fire serves as a wake-up call for persons responsible for the memory of a nation.

“If it were the archives of St. Lucia that were burnt down today, what would you do? Do we have backup copies? So digitization is a priority, it’s not a luxury, it’s a priority,” he said.

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