Progressive bankruptcy of the Centre des Arts et de la Culture: the strange silence of the media

The Centre des Arts et de la Culture in Pointe-à-Pitre - Photo: Évelyne Chaville

For the past two or three days, the Centre des Arts et de la Culture file has been on everyone’s lips. Suddenly, the media are rushing to finally talk about this cultural building that has been abandoned for years. However, these same media were present during the various site visits (Kariculture was never invited) and reported the statements of the politicians and technicians at the time.

Where were these media when the building was under construction and surrounded by wild grass, stray dogs and rubbish etc.?

Where were they when there were no workers on the site or when the workers were on strike?

Why did these media never go and interview those responsible to find out the exact reasons that explained there was no activity on the construction site?

We are told that there were company bankruptcies as well as financial difficulties, what media covered this at the time to inform the people?

Could this “strange silence” be explained by the fear of certain people in charge of the renovation and extension?

Because some media signed an agreement with certain local authorities which brings them money, so it was better to close their eyes and not see this huge concrete block in the middle of the city and in front of the city hall?

Where were these “whistle-blowers” who usually have an opinion on all subjects?

These media preferred to move their way and ignore what constitutes a scandal: the closure of the largest cultural space in Guadeloupe (at the time) since 2008 and an endless and finally abandoned renovation and extension work.

But, while the Centre des Arts was dying very slowly, we saw lots of “centres” and “palaces” related to culture growing elsewhere…

In September 2018, less than two years after its launch, Kariculture published an article on the subject entitled: Centre des Arts et de la Culture: closed for 10 years!. Since the Pointe-à-Pitre city hall has not been managing this file since 2010, we turned to the Cap Excellence agglomeration community, but we quickly understood that they were telling us “Mango fil ka bay bil” or “Ou pa bizwen manjé piman pou kriyé chwit”, in short tales to avoid asking for more information. This silence did not prevent us from writing this very long article.

Today, we hear that the budget for the renovation and extension of the Centre des Arts et de la Culture increased from 16 to 39 million euros, a sum that would be impossible to raise.

We learn that the Cap Excellence Urban Community and the city want to sell the Centre des Arts et de la Culture.

With a debt of nearly 80 million euros, the city hall no longer even has money to buy “toilet paper”, according to the mayor of Pointe-à-Pire who recently spoke on the radio. It’s like being in the United States when a city like Detroit went bankrupt in 2013…

But in this time of Covid-19, when the cultural world is on difficulty, uncertainty is general, will it be easy to find a buyer?

To avoid “wasteland”, will the Pointe-à-Pitre Centre des Arts et de la Culture, which is not just any place but an important venue of cultural memory in Guadeloupe, be sold off?

It is announced that a steering committee will have to decide, next January, on the fate of this great cultural centre, but the additional funds to complete the works will not only be at the heart of discussions. The high budget required to make such a “flagship” work – as Cap Excellence called it in its cultural review in 2017 – will certainly be taken into account.

The successive closure of all the city’s cultural facilities (bookshops, cinemas, museums, cultural centres…) is a real heartbreak for the real “Pointois” who stayed in their city while others moved elsewhere and for the “Pointois” by adoption like me, for almost 26 years…

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