9 students lose artwork in Edna Manley

Approximately nine final-year students at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts lost artwork in a fire that damaged Hope Brooks Painting Studio, a section of the School of Visual Arts, yesterday morning.

Director of marketing and communications at the school, Coleen Douglas, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday evening that the students will experience a slight setback due to the blaze.

“It is not a heavy setback. That would be for the eight or nine final-year students who would have started doing work in this space. Those spaces are used by students to prepare for their respective projects and the final-year show,” she said.

“Students who had things in there are able to identify comfortably what they would have lost. Until the damage assessment report is done, we can’t ascertain the level of the damage. At Edna, we are used to a culture of making do with what we have. So as much as the space is unavailable, we are grateful that the structure wasn’t damaged extensively,” she added.

According to Douglas, there were about two students in the studio when the fire started. “As far as I know, one might have been upstairs and the other downstairs, but got out fast enough to alert the rest of the school community,” she said.

When the Observer arrived about 10:30 am, firefighters were seen trying to put out the blaze, while scores of onlookers, who appeared to be staff members and students from the school, gathered at the scene.

Emilio Ebanks, Jamaica Fire Brigade public relations officer, told Observer that he and his team responded quickly after receiving the call about the blaze at 9:25 am.

When asked if the building was occupied at the time of the fire, he responded: “Occupied is relative. There were students there. One student reported that he smelled smoke and he is the one who raised an alarm. The building is divided into different studios so there were students in different studios at the time. The upper floor is completely lost but the ground floor is fine,” he said.

Ebanks said the estimated loss from the fire is $20 million and the risk is $200 million.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

In the meantime, Douglas said the guidance counsellor has been in dialogue with the students who were impacted.

Additionally, she said the minister of education, youth and information has also committed to providing some psychosocial support.

“Experiencing a loss, especially in these times when people are already being stressed, is hard, so we are monitoring them to see that they are okay mentally,” she said.

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