art in all its forms

art in all its forms

1/13/10

My nights at the Republic

The Republic has hosted people, art. Photo by Andre Bagoo.

Just off the insane asylum in St Ann's, at a bend on Sydenham Avenue, is a small gingerbreadish house with a red door. The fretwork is painted primary school green, the walls are the colour of body lotion. There are burglar-proof iron grilles and wooden louvres.

'The Republic of Sydenham', which opens up inside into several rooms, including an incredible attic, has, over the last few years, been a home for art, music, dance, critical discourse and fete. It is currently the home for New York/Trinidadian based dancer Makeda Thomas and her Roots and Wings Movement which has hosted a dance and performance institute there. Last year, the space opened a modest art gallery. Countless musicians, including LAZA beam, Coreysan, Sheldon Holder and Sheldon Blackman, have also performed in its walls.

For many, The Republic has been a regular stop; an alternative to places like Zen. I've attended  some great limes and parties there,  met new people, encountered new music; bands. But now, this is all about to change. After years of support from a private landowner, The Republic has now found itself on the verge of being homeless. Its lease is up, and it is in need of a home. 
 
Dancer Celia Weiss Bambara performs in the attic at the Republic last Saturday. Photo courtesy the artist.


I've written about the need for spaces for the arts in Trinidad in the past. For me, The Republic's predicament is yet another stark example of a lack of support structures for the arts generally in this country.

Private funding and the support of private landowners can only go so far; arguably there is a need for State bodies to also offer assistance to artistic projects which, because of their very nature, may be noncommercial in orientation. The Republic has been a home, yes, but it has also been something else; something quite special. It's a shame that when endeavors like this find themselves in difficulty there is no standard avenue for Government aid.
 
LAZA beam(Keshav Singh), one of countless musicians to have  performed at the Republic.

The Republic HAS a Facebook page here.

2 comments:

  1. Well this is really sad considering I've only recently (sadly) discovered the gem.
    I hope a new home is found soon!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh my Lord! No! A new home must be found soon. Prayers are going up now.

    ReplyDelete