“To stimulate, facilitate and preserve cultural and artistic expression generally, particularly the preservation and exploration of Caymanian performing, visual and literacy arts.”
What is CNCF?
For more than 30 years, the non-profit Cayman National Cultural Foundation has carried out its mission of stimulating, facilitating and preserving Caymanian cultural and artistic expression. CNCF has achieved this through the extensive development of wide-ranging programmes. These programmes include stage productions, creative education for young people, free workshops and financial support of artists, as well as festivals, publications, national recognition of artistic and cultural achievement and the preservation of Caymanian heritage, and arts and culture for future generations.
Arts & Cultural Preservation
CNCF owns the Gladwyn K. Bush (Miss Lassie) Collection of art, which consists of more than 100 original paintings, and owns and manages the cultural heritage site that is ‘MIND’S EYE, The Visionary World of Gladwyn K. Bush’, also known as “Miss Lassie’s House”. CNCF presents the annual National Arts and Culture Awards, which recognise artistic and creative work that is of high-quality. These awards also recognise consistent and active, quality engagement in the preservation and/or celebration of Caymanian cultural heritage. CNCF maintains a reference library of books and electronic media from Cayman and elsewhere.
Cayfest, The Cayman Islands National Festival of the Arts, showcases local artists and artisans, including performances by the Cayman Islands Folk Singers, in the spring. Gimistory, The International Storytelling Festival of the Cayman Islands, features storytellers from Cayman, the Caribbean and beyond, and is the highly anticpated kick off to the holiday season in November and December.
CNCF manages the nine acre F.J. Harquail Cultural Centre. This houses the Harquail Theatre which fulfils the function of the national theatre of the Cayman Islands, the Studio Theatre, and the CNCF Offices. This output includes the management of the physical plant to a high standard, as well as the busy rental programme of 90+ plays, concerts, conferences, receptions, and other events each year. In addition, CNCF also produces its own theatrical productions and performing arts events throughout the year from these venues, notably Rundown.
CNCF’s mission to preserve and develop Caymanian arts and culture includes an active annual training programme in the performing, visual and literary arts. Every year we host workshops, screenings, seminars or residencies for local performers, teachers and students. CNCF also manages the largest creative grant programme in the Cayman Islands titled ‘Grants for the Arts’, which over the years has funded numerous creative projects, productions, publications, and training opportunities. The mission of the grant is to facilitate opportunities for artists (and creative groups).
CNCF provides school and teacher cultural resources as well as a variety of youth programmes involving the artistic disciplines of drama, dance, traditional arts and crafts, storytelling and music. This is executed via the Young-At-Arts extra-curricular classes, performances and field trips, which culminates in work-shows to showcase to a public audience the participants’ progress over the course of the workshops.
The Grants & Awards Committee – evaluates applications for financial grants. The Committee also assesses nominations for the National Arts & Culture Awards and names the recipients of the various awards.
Could you sum up what the Cultural Foundation does?
The work of the Cultural Foundation incorporates arts and cultural preservation, cultural festivals, producing and assisting others with shows at the National Theatre, artistic development, youth arts, and special projects. These are in fact the outputs that are funded in part by the Cayman Islands Government. CNCF’s activities cover the full scope of artistic disciplines: Theatre, Dance, Music, Visual, Literary and Traditional Arts.
Where is the Cultural Foundation’s Office? Where is the Harquail Theatre?
From downtown George Town, drive north of North Church Street, which becomes West Bay Road. Turn right onto Lawrence Thompson Boulevard, drive past the Marquee Centre, then go around the Camana Bay round-about back onto Lawrence Thompson Boulevard and make your first left onto Harquail Drive. Come through the gates into the F.J. Harquail Cultural Centre. The Harquail Theatre is the larger building and the Cultural Foundation’s Office is in the smaller building on the property, above the Studio Theatre.
What days and times is the Cultural Foundation Office Open?
The Cultural Foundation is normally open to the public Monday through Friday, from 8:30am to 5:00pm, except for public holidays.
Why is the Cultural Center named F.J. Harquail Cultural Centre?
Frank J. Harquail was a Canadian businessman and the husband of the late Helen Harquail, a benefactor for the arts who was a long time resident of the Cayman islands. Mrs. Harquail donated the land on which the Cultural Centre is located and funded the building of the Harquail Threatre as a gift to the people of Cayman. The Centre was named in memory of her late husband in appreciation of her philanthropic gift.
Did anyone else make a major contribution to the development of the Cultural Centre?
Many local residents supported the realisation of The Centre. In particular, the late Lawrence Thompson, a Caymanian businessman, donated land which enables access from Lawrence Thompson Boulevard to the site donated by Mrs. Harquail.
Is the Cultural Foundation the same thing as the National Trust, the National Gallery, the National Museum or the National Children’s Festival of the Arts?
No, these are all separate organizations, whose information about which can be found in our Resources pages.
Can we book a tour of the Harquail?
Tours of the Harquail Theatre and Studio Theatre are given to school groups, community groups and people interested in renting the theatre.
Who is eligible for a financial grant?
CNCF Grants for the Arts are available to creative artists and groups from all arts disciplines including craftspeople, art educators, cultural workers, arts organisations, youth groups and community groups.