Wednesday, 29 June 2016

CULTURAL EXCHANGE: Simon Bolivar Centre spices up its offerings with Latin dance, Spanish lessons

CLASS IN SESSION: Salsa dancing and Spanish lessons are now on offer at the Parade-based cultural centre.

When the Simon Bolivar Cultural Centre was opened at North Parade, Downtown Kingston, in September 2015, it heralded the arrival of an institution that would foster the deepening of cultural ties between Jamaica and its Latin American allies, particularly Venezuela, whose government (under the Petro Caribe agreement) foot the bill to cover construction costs.

Months later, the Centre (opened Mondays to Saturdays, is doing much more than welcoming locals to learn about our relations with Latin America and Simon Bolivar’s life and legacy. The Centre has diversified its offerings to include an after-school programme for children, adult Spanish classes for beginners and intermediates, as well as salsa and merengue dance classes.

“We’re trying to appeal to a wide cross-section of the public and increase our visitation numbers, and so far the response has been encouraging,” explains Centre manager Nadine Boothe-Goodin, adding that they are committed to serving the community.

At the same time, she emphasizes, they want to rake in some revenue for the Centre, which falls under the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) umbrella. That’s why the introductory phase of these new offerings was free of cost but now they carry a fee. While the Latin dance classes cost $2,500 per month, it’s $8,000 per term to attend Spanish classes.

“When we just started, a lot of persons attended but since we added the fees, the numbers have dwindled. But things have been picking up quite a bit these past few weeks,” Boothe-Goodin points out, adding that professionals who work in the Downtown area are among their regulars. “Our aim is to market the Centre as much as possible and get more people to visit us regularly.”

Social media promotion is one particularly effective strategy that’s been pulling in visitors. On Monday of this week, the Centre hosted a front-of-house Open Day, complete with a sign-up campaign and attention-grabbing music. “These events give us the opportunity to interact more with the public,” the manager notes. “We are happy with the response, and as we market more and increase our activities, we are sure we will experience increased patronage.”

> For more info, visit the Simon Bolivar Centre at 10 North Parade, Kingston, or call 967-0378. Email: simonbolivarcentre@gmail.com






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