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Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill (right) has a discussion with State Minister for Tourism and Entertainment Damion Crawford.- File
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill (right) has a discussion with State Minister for Tourism and Entertainment Damion Crawford—

Almost a year ago, when the People’s National Party came into power, the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment took on a new board, not much has been heard from it since.

That isn’t to say nothing has been happening. In an interview with Kingsley Cooper, chairman of the Entertainment Advisory Board, he explained that the wheels have been turning hard.

“We spent the first few months looking at the state of the industry, formulating plans, appointing sub-committees, looking at existing and future legislation, budgeting, and the like,” he said.

Those activities are not the type that make major headlines, however, from that came a second phase where there was consultation within and from outside of the industry.

Those consultations were followed by the media and included “matters such as registration of industry practitioners, the noise abatement regulations and practice, entertainment event rating, and the draft Entertainment Encouragement Act”.

According to Cooper, while the second phase is still ongoing, there has been movement into a third phase, the chairman citing the example of Arts in the Park later today (See related story on D4).

The event, which features a number of Jamaica’s favourite up-and-comers, Cooper explains, goes much further than private promoters are prepared to take it.

“We are bringing senior music industry executives to Jamaica to see these acts perform before a live audience. These executives have the power to transform careers and we hope that this initiative will lead to record deals and major success for some of these acts,” he said.

Kingsley Cooper

Not just the music business

The move is to make a business of not just the music business (art and craft , food and drink will also be on display), but other elements of the creative industry.

“With our country facing serious economic challenges, we must now move beyond debt containment to meaningful growth, capable of generating significant employment as well as the reduction of debt to acceptable levels. The creative industries are the answer,” said Cooper.

Whether or not Arts in the Park is successful (the Government is hoping it can have the event quarterly), there are other plans already in train.

“90 Days of Summer is meant to be the major catalyst for positive change. This concept will cement Jamaica’s status as the entertainment capital of the Caribbean and make us a global powerhouse among the entertainment, creative and cultural capitals of the world,” said Cooper.

The idea, the chairman explained, is to pull together all areas of the entertainment spectrum taking place during the summer and market them internationally under the ’90 Days of Summer’ umbrella. The period is to last from June to August.

“This is very significant for our tourism industry, as the summertime is when we have excess rooms capacity,” said Cooper.

“Success will mean tremendous growth and employment in the entertainment industry, full hotel occupancy, as well as sale of merchandise and further growth in related businesses, small and large, which provide goods and services to entertainment and tourism,” he said, pointing out that the sectors include agriculture, other foods, beverages, beauty care, clothing, online facilities, and other forms of new technologies.

Success of project

The move will not be for the Government to take over the events and activities of persons in the private sector, but as Cooper says, “will simply add focus, branding, organisation, additional marketing, and general support”.

The timeline, Cooper says, for the success of the project is, hopefully, three years.

That success is not guaranteed, though, and Cooper needs similar buy-in to that which was offered to government from the private sector during two debt exchange programmes.

“We need our key stakeholders to understand that there is a real opportunity to create an environment in which Jamaica can prosper by developing these industries. Despite the economic challenges facing Jamaica, indeed, because of these challenges and the obvious need to confront them, our creative industries must be given full rein so that their full potential can be realised,” said Cooper.

Damion Crawford

According to him, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, as well as the Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill, are supportive, with Damion Crawford (state minister in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment) already lending support to the efforts as part of his responsibility for entertainment.

Cooper has not commented on how much budgetary support the plan will require, but says, because of the nature of the industry, it will not be a project that should be a burden on government taxes.

Crawford agrees with Cooper in principle and says the plan is already before the Ministry of Finance for approval.


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