Plans to change the use of Cross Island into a private entity have been scrapped by Public Works Minister Colonel David Burch.
The Minister hosted a news conference this week to announce that the $39 million former home of the 35th America’s Cup, will be transformed into an entertainment hub up at the West End.
Savvy Entertainment Bermuda now hold a five-year lease to use Cross Island and Moresby House to host events that do not require permanent structures.
That lease also carries a clause that allows a rethink after the first year if necessary.
Asked by Bermuda Real for his response to critics who may feel that Cross Island should be used for private enterprise like agro-farming, Public Works Minister Colonel David Burch said: “I am the final arbiter!
“And so when the proposal was put to me, the fact that it is going to involve young people, and particularly our at-risk young people as an integral part of the programme and the process, then it’s an easy decision for me to say yes.
“We can do this because I think that we require a variety of activities and interventions in order to save our young people.
“A lot of them have a lot of interest, particularly in the arts; and so I see this as an opportunity for them to have broader and wider exposure.”
Ultimately, he said this initiative is not about the “noise factor” – it’s about “saving lives”.
When asked about the noise factor for residents across the waters off Cross Island, he smiled and said they’ve had six months of peace and quiet.
Chief Operating Officer at Savvy Entertainment Bermuda, Danilee Trott said the local branch of the global entertainment company also planned to convert Moresby House into an “A-class” recording studio.
Entertainment events to be hosted include corporate functions, live concerts, themed parties, live music concerts, skating rinks, and more.
“The space will also be available for rent for local promoters and producers, as well as organisations to host their own private events,” said Ms Trott.
“Our plans for Moresby House include converting it into an A-class recording studio as a destination event for international recording artists as well as for use by local artists.”
Colonel Burch noted that the previous board of the West End Development Corporation commissioned a sub-committee to look into Cross Island.
While the executive summary is still under review by the new board, he said the decision was made to “make this area available that do not require any permanent structures” in the short-term.
“While this is not a decision that should be rushed into, we must also keep in mind that these facilities are Bermuda assets which should not continue to sit vacant while a decision is made,” the Minister said.
“An application has been made to the Department of Planning and we expect to see activity on Cross Island in the very near future.”
He also noted that a pre-negotiated fee will be attached to all events, and the revenue generated would be used to defer the $39 million price tag that came out of the public purse to pay the cost of construction.
More details will be released by Wedco on their website and other social media on procedures and contact details to book events in due course.
The company, founded by Anthony Blakey, plans “to use their expertise and worldwide contacts to help develop local talent”.
The local branch, Savvy Foundation Bermuda, has already applied for charitable status.
Former Progressive Labour Party Premier, Dame Jennifer Smith, was invited to join the international foundation’s board.
She has also been appointed as the first resident Director in Bermuda.
Known for her love of the arts, Dame Jennifer said: “I trust that I will be able to help in us uniting with Bermudian charities and Bermudian people who are already working in the area of entertainment, arts and culture.”
Savvy Foundation President, Tim Blakey, explained that the new exchange programme will provide a gateway to international exposure.
“Our goal here, of course, to inspire, educate and to empower them,” he said.
“The main thing in education is that knowledge comes power. The youth definitely needs that.”
Area MP for the Constituency of Sandys North, Michael Scott welcomed the “immense opportunities” in store for the island’s youth, particularly young people who are at-risk.
“I’m so excited about this synergy that I have heard about from the Minister’s statement,” said Mr Scott.
“I see the synergies immediately for integrating our young people at risk or involved in gang activity, even our children who seem to get pulled into from school.
“So the opportunities here are immense. I commend the Minister and the board for this initiative.
“I can promise you that I will do everything possible as the area MP to be supportive and give input.”
Bermudian singer Olivia Hamilton, who was one of the artists to perform at Savvy’s showcase event last month, welcomed the move to promote and uplift young talent.
“Not only are they providing a platform for Bermudian talents, but a springboard and an avenue for us to be on the world stage,” she said.
“I for one, will be travelling overseas with them, Jesse Seymour is travelling overseas with them; so these are opportunities that we may not have gotten had they not come and made them available to us.
“These opportunities are once in a lifetime and I’m more than grateful as I’m sure all of the other artists are,” she added.
“If you are a Bermudian and you have talent – there is so much talent here – come out and get with the team.”
- Photos Courtesy of Stephen Raynor – DCI