Fast food restaurant chain Burger King yesterday moved to take down a billboard just off the premises of the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) on Keate Street, Port of Spain, amid criticism that it was commercialising an area that is supposed to be dedicated to local culture.
The billboard advertising the chain's popular Whopper hamburger sandwich was erected almost two weeks ago.
Anger over the billboard's location sparked intense condemnation on various Internet discussion forums yesterday, spearheaded by local artist LeRoy Clarke.
"How low we are in esteem for our space! For God's sake, this is in the park, a border that is already too small to properly stage this beautifully, pertinent building for the NAPA, and the ancient Victoria Institute, encrypted, the National Museum... a ground that should be held sacrosanct now made a market place 'for a food!'" Clarke said in an e-mail to the Express yesterday.
In a subsequent telephone call, he added, "This is the effrontery of commerce on the arts—a flagellation. As an artist, it insults me. They are taking over an artistic space and heading towards materialism. "There should not be a billboard around the (Queen's Park Savannah.) It should be a breathing space."
In response, Burger King's marketing manager, Ryan Lewis, told the Express via telephone yesterday the company would be removing the sign. He said the issue was only brought to his attention yesterday, after which he immediately requested the billboard's owners take the advertisement down until further notice.
He added that the billboard was, as far as he knew, not on NAPA property, and had been in that spot for over a year without any problems.