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Remarks by the Hon. Damion Crawford, Minister of State, Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, at the Opening of Lion Ville Studio, Thursday, February 6, 2014


I am truly humbled to be participating in this milestone event in May Pen, one of Jamaica’s fastest developing towns and home of Humble Lions FC, a football club that has etched its mark in the historical records of the very popular sport locally and nationally.

I am sure it was not coincidental that you have chosen this day, February 6, to open your studio to the world. Today marks the birthday of the world’s greatest reggae artiste, the honourable Robert Nesta Marley, our own Bob Marley.

There were two things that Bob Marley loved more than anything else – music and football and it is of note that Humble Lions has made its name in football through the Premier League and is now looking to carve out a niche in the entertainment industry.

In looking at your crest, the three words of your motto jumped out at me – Discipline, Love, Unity – they combine the hallmarks of success.

Success on the football field requires a high level of discipline. Ask any outstanding player or coach. Those who play the game do so because they love the thrill of 90 minutes of intense competition on the field.

But, at all times, each player must bear in mind that he – and I must say or she, as women have been doing great at the sport as well – is a member of a team on the field of play and that a sense of unity will determine the outcome.

Having ventured into the music industry, you must not lose sight of the fact that your success will depend on the extent to which you adhere to your motto - Discipline. Love. Unity.

My portfolio responsibility for entertainment in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, has given me an in-depth look at our country’s most popular export, reggae music. No other music form has ever captured the global market in the unique way that reggae has.

Globally, it has been recognized that entertainment has the capacity to contribute substantially to economic diversification and growth, particularly in developing countries such as ours. I am happy to see that you have bought into that message and that Lion Ville Studio has been developed as a community initiative aimed at harnessing local talent and training aspiring singers, musicians and entertainers in the community, through courses related to the industry.

We at the Ministry are committed to the development of our rich cultural heritage, in particular the creative and performing arts. This underlines our tangible support for events such as Sting, Reggae Sumfest and the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival.  And it does not stop there.

In Reggae Month, our Ministry, through the Jamaica Tourist Board, supported by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) is spearheading a number of initiatives in the entertainment sector. This is aimed at supporting the work of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) and other industry partners and building on the framework they have developed.

We hold firm to the belief that well-managed events are catalysts to attract both Jamaicans and foreigners.  Such events serve to showcase Jamaica’s diverse entertainment brand while activating public spaces and increasing the linkages between tourism, entertainment and other important sectors.

From our standpoint at the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, this month holds special significance for Kingston. There are some 15 events that receive endorsement and support from the Jamaica Tourist Board and not only does the majority of them take place in Kingston, but some of the major ones are staged as Reggae Month activities.

As a reminder, we have:

  • Reggae Wednesdays,
  • The Bob Marley Birthday Celebration,
  • The JaRIA Honour Awards,
  • The Dennis Brown Concert,
  • The Reggae Month Symposium.

It is in recognition of this fact that for Reggae Month, the spotlight is on the capital city with the inauguration of “Reggae Month... It’s Kingston for February”.

This concept was conceived to advance our strategy in this respect, encourage tourism product diversification and economic empowerment. The activities will serve to increase public involvement in the Jamaican tourism sector while driving growth in related sectors.

This forms part of our continued initiative to restore Kingston as the entertainment capital of the Caribbean through decisive and strategic steps. In Kingston the TEF also supports the Dennis Brown Concert and Trench Town Festival as part of the downtown Kingston restoration effort. 

We expect these events to drive traffic to the capital city. In particular, we are targeting European tourists who typically have longer stays on island, thereby resulting in substantially higher occupancy levels in Kingston and with their patronage, generate increased economic activities. 

We also have ‘90 Days of Summer’ which is a branded package of entertainment activities taking place from mid-may to mid-august of each year that have been timed to capture a wide variety of events.

We expect that ‘90 Days of Summer’ will go a far way in positioning Jamaica as a unique destination and distinguish the island from other destinations offering sun, sea and sand.  

As I mentioned before, there is universal recognition of the power of entertainment and its potential as a tool for progress.

Jamaica is blessed with an abundance of talent and so there is no shortage of singers and players of instruments.

But this talent needs to be harnessed, professionally managed and properly channelled in order to gain widespread recognition and reap just rewards for the artistes.

It is no secret that the local entertainment sector has many challenges, especially for recording artistes, and that is why our Ministry is also committed to working closely with regulating and monitoring agencies to protect our share of the international industry as it relates to Jamaican music. We are determined that the artistes and their managers, the promoters and the country as a whole,  work together to successfully position entertainment as an engine of economic growth.

In closing, I must appeal to promoters and producers to ensure that in their efforts to tap into the zeal and talents of our young people, they encourage them to focus on quality and not just quantity.

While Jamaica has given birth to reggae, it has evolved into a global commodity with countries such as Germany, China and France embracing it as if it were their own. We are happy that it has such widespread international appeal but we must also recognize that the market buys quality music. Hence we must strive to consistently produce high quality music and I am sure the Lion Ville Studio will play its part in enhancing our musical output locally.

I look forward to hearing much more about Lion Ville Studio in the not-too-distant future and I that vein, wish it much success.  Thank you.