What is the historical significance of Devon House for Jamaica?
The background of Devon House is the story of a man who worked his way up in life and built a home for himself. George Stiebel was Jamaica's first black millionaire and made his fortune from gold in Venezuela after surviving a shipwreck. This story of ambition and success is extremely important for a country that is still haunted by the legacies of slavery and colonialism. In 1965, Devon House was set to be demolished to build an apartment complex; however, the Hon. Edward Seaga put a stop to it, and the government acquired the house. It then became the home of the National Gallery until 1982. In 1982, he reopened Devon House, which was when all the structural work was done. The house was restored to its former glory, but its budget was barely paying salaries. When I joined in 2006, the government was providing JMD40 million (USD310,700) a year in subsidies. Since then, we have undertaken significant changes and improvements to increase the number of visitors and reduce our dependence on the government.
How do you intend to become self-sufficient in terms of funding?
Since we updated the furnishings, many people now choose to hold events here, to the point where we have to turn away people. On weekends, we have over 3,000 people coming through here. Our location is fantastic; we are the only green space as such in Kingston, which is extremely central.