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The first staging of ‘Arts in the Park,’ an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment as part of its effort to develop the entertainment sector, is being heralded as a major success. The inaugural event was held at Hope Botanical Gardens in Kingston on February 24, 2013, and provided a total cultural immersion into the visual and performing arts for both locals and visitors alike. This, with a reggae show billed in its entirety with new and emerging talent, coupled with a village for local artists to showcase their paintings, craft items and other forms of art.
Free to the public, the timing of its introduction was to facilitate its inclusion in the Reggae Month festivities. The event was also staged as part of an ongoing initiative to reposition Kingston as the ‘Entertainment Mecca’ of the Caribbean. Among the performers were several bands including Nomaddz, Pentateuch, Ska Rebirth, C-Sharp as well as Chronixx and Zinc Fence.
State Minister for Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Damion Crawford under whose portfolio the initiative falls, says “the execution of the show was good and I am very pleased that it has materialized after many months of consultation and planning. Similar events are slated to be held in other resort areas in the coming months so we are seeking to use this as a template to energize the entertainment sector and provide well needed exposure to local performers and artists.”
‘Arts in the Park’ was conceived to increase the quality of entertainment offerings locally, while providing opportunities for international booking and talent scouts to sign local acts and experience the ‘best of Jamaica.’ The initiative provides business networking opportunities for local bands with international agents from companies such as Warner Brothers/Atlantic Records, Sony/ATV Music, Blaze the Stage, St. Kitts Music Festival, and Roc Nation.
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill noted that “the feedback from agents who attended the first event has been positive and many of them are totally blown away. They have seen our artistes and they are saying that this is fabulous. I believe that the initiative will prove to be an excellent platform for the exposure of new and emerging talent.”
Underscoring the Minister’s belief, Omar Grant, Director of A&R at Roc Nation said “if we do more of this, giving a greater awareness of reggae music and more acceptance, it will actually cause a breakthrough and take it to another level, and more people in the US and in other countries would pay greater attention to reggae music and appreciate it more.”
The ‘Arts in the Park’ initiative was developed through a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, the Entertainment Advisory Board, the Tourism Enhancement Fund, the Jamaica Tourist Board and entertainment stakeholders.