Former Beatles producer Sir George Martin is working to establish a cultural center for the volcano-ravaged island of Montserrat. He has raised $800,000 for the $1.6 million center, which will seat up

Former Beatles producer Sir George Martin is working to establish a cultural center for the volcano-ravaged island of Montserrat. He has raised $800,000 for the $1.6 million center, which will seat up to 500 people.

"This island has had its ups and downs and been almost been knocked flat, but it's still in there fighting," the 75-year-old Martin said Tuesday at a groundbreaking ceremony on the island. "There is obviously a great need to have an auditorium where people can celebrate their skills, their heritage, which can also attract artists from abroad or international conferences".

His ties to Montserrat go back to the late 1970s, when he established a recording studio that attracted musicians such as Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, and Elton John. The studio was ruined in a hurricane in 1989.

In 1995, the volcano destroyed Plymouth, the capital of the British Caribbean territory. Since then the population has shrunk from about 11,000 to 5,000, and residents of Plymouth in the south have had to resettle in the northern half of the island and work to establish a new capital.

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