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Group wants to restore historic playhouse into ‘world-calibre cultural centre’

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The Emperial Group of Companies will spearhead renovations of Somers Playhouse. Pictured, from left, are Corin Smith, Eugene Dean and Gladwyn Simmons (Photograph by Sékou Hendrickson)

An historic East End playhouse could be transformed into a “world-calibre cultural centre” as part of a strategy to align the Cup Match holiday with a United States emancipation holiday.

The Emperial Group of Companies wants to restore Somers Playhouse as part of a scheme to align the Cup Match holiday with Juneteenth, which celebrates the emancipation of slaves and was codified last year as a national holiday.

Gladwyn Simmons, a member of the Emperial Group, said that external restorations such as power-washing and repainting the building will start within the next month.

He added that the group was awaiting cost estimates for the project before they started internal renovations.

Somers Playhouse is due for a facelift (Photograph by Sekou Hendrickson)

Corin Smith, another member of the Emperial Group, said that estimates on how much the project would cost were still being made — but he encouraged the public to get involved through donations or business opportunities.

He said: “There are so many stakeholders who have an interest in these iconic historic properties.

“It’s going to involve a lot more than just a paint job to make it really work.”

Somers Playhouse was the main lodge for the Grand United Order of Oddfellows that laid the groundwork during the 1800s to establish the Cup Match tradition.

In an opinion article in today’s Royal Gazette, Emperial Group member Eugene Dean said that the restoration of the playhouse would be a great opportunity for Bermuda to get back in touch with its historic roots — especially during a time of economic uncertainty for the island after the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “We hear time and time again that we need to get back to our roots. There is literally no time like the present to be in ‘the moment’ as a unified country.

“The Juneteenth holiday provides us with the perfect opportunity to join hands across the Atlantic — and also here at home.

“Together, we can legitimately celebrate the unrivalled leadership status that Bermuda enjoys as the first community in the British Empire to experience emancipation — albeit simply by virtue of our privileged mid-Atlantic time zone.”

* Click here for an opinion article by the Group.

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Published June 30, 2022 at 7:55 am (Updated June 30, 2022 at 8:40 am)

Group wants to restore historic playhouse into ‘world-calibre cultural centre’

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