64 Knutsford Boulevard, Kingston 5, Jamaica
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Theme: Entertainment – Enroute to Progress
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to make my contribution to this year’s Sectoral Debate. I am grateful to the Most Honourable Prime Minister for her continued strong leadership and the confidence reposed in me as I have carried out my duties as State Minister for Tourism and Entertainment over the reporting period.
I am indebted to my lead Minister and mentor the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill who has allowed me room to continue growing and developing in this critical portfolio area.
I thank the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, Mrs. Jennifer Griffith, and the Director General Ms. Carrole Guntley whose support and experience have helped to smooth the way as we have sought to steer the ship of tourism and the twin entertainment sector over the past year.
I would also like to pay tribute to members of the Entertainment Advisory Board, (EAB) chaired by Mr. Kingsley Cooper, Executive Chairman of Pulse Investments Limited.
I further acknowledge the collaborative work of colleague Ministers with responsibility for National Security; Local Government; Industry, Investment and Commerce; Youth and Culture; Education; Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Finance & Planning; as well as the agencies, organizations and numerous individuals who comprise the spectrum of stakeholders who must work together to achieve optimal development and outcomes for the ‘creative economy’.
The unfailing support of my family – my mother, my sisters and my uncle continues to inspire, encourage and buoy me as I have pursued my passion to contribute to nation building as a first-term Member of Parliament. I thank my constituents in East Rural St. Andrew, my Councillors and management team who have journeyed with me in seeking to make a difference in a constituency, the needs of which are great and whose people cry out to us daily for relief, for hope and help in setting themselves on a path to measurable progress.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by mentioning initiatives which have been undertaken by the Ministry to develop Community Tourism. My lead Minister, Dr. Wykeham McNeill alluded to this earlier and I will now take the opportunity to provide further details.
There are various models of community tourism that position community activities as attractions that add to Jamaica’s already extensive and diversified ‘things to do’ list. These excursions will help to position Jamaica as a “more for more” destination. The model accepts the influence of the Jamaica Tourist Board’s activities to attract visitors to the island and the reality that these efforts are directed towards particular demographic, psychographic, geographic and behavioural segments.
The model calls for a dependence relationship between mainstream tourism and community excursions facilitated by a designated day for community interaction and an incubator system through which hotels work with assigned community attractions.
Community excursions will be facilitated by assigning one day per week called the Meet the People Day. This is a day that hotels are encouraged by moral suasion to not have any planned activities on the property but instead are to encourage their guest to participate in listed community excursions. These excursions will be listed in categories to include but not limited to:
Steps to Implementation
Mr. Speaker, the implementation process will entail several steps, which include:
Mr. Speaker, the Meet the People initiative has multiple beneficiaries which include selected communities, hotels, the craft sector, transportation and the general economy.
Mr. Speaker, I now turn to the Craft Sector so critical in distinguishing and stamping the character of a destination:
Craft holds the potential to be a lucrative industry, UNESCO estimates that tourist direct spending on craft in Thailand in 2004 was over 2 billion US dollars, approximately $140 per visitor. Mr. Speaker, if we can facilitate spending per visitor of even 10 % of this amount on Jamaican craft items, this would amount to $14 per visitor. Not a number to be scuffed at Mr. Speaker as this could yield an estimated $4.4 billion in earnings for the sector.
The views expressed during at least six consultations with stakeholders since the beginning of our term in office, indicate key challenges to the craft sector. These include:
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment has devised solutions to address some of these challenges including instituting a Craft Authority which will be a centralized craft board responsible for the management, maintenance and marketing of craft markets.
The Craft Authority will serve as the first line of interaction, implementation and enforcement for craft activities, with only appeals coming to the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment and/or its affiliates. I will note, Mr. Speaker, that the Craft Authority will not be another Government talk shop but like, Seychelles and Bahamas will seek to address: quality, variety, value, sales, customer satisfaction and profits. This will be done through greater local identity, innovation, better packaging, regulation, as well as production and distribution facilities.
Mr. Speaker, in order to achieve the objectives identified, the Ministry is spearheading the development of an Art, Craft and Souvenir policy to streamline the industry. When completed, the policy will address the following:
Mr. Speaker, this is but a glimpse of the policy currently being pursued at the Ministry.
Further to addressing these challenges the Ministry is working collaboratively with JIPO, the Edna Manley College, JBDC and the Bureau of Standards to create a brand called ‘Authentic Jamaican’ that will only be sold in craft markets.
The Authentic Jamaican Design Competition 2013 is currently being undertaken and is intended to increase the quantity, diversity, quality and standard of craft and souvenir items that can be sold in craft markets as ‘Authentic Jamaican’ products.
ENTERTAINMENT IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
Mr. Speaker, I now turn to the portfolio area of entertainment. Entertainment is multi-faceted, dynamic and wide-ranging, incorporating;
Entertainment is now well recognized as having the capacity to contribute substantially to economic diversification and growth, notably in developing countries. Further, Mr. Speaker, data from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) point to trade in creative and cultural industries having proved remarkably resilient in times of economic downturn, suffering less severe declines and recovering more rapidly than other sectors.
In Jamaica we see this resilience in entertainment events as during these tough economic times small promoters and community based events in 8 parishes between January 1 and June 2013, directly spent and infused J$111.7 million in the economy with just one hundred and twenty-eight (128) events and provided temporary employment to more than 2,589 persons. These figures are based on our MTE data on those events receiving extensions to legal ‘cut-off’ time.
THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY AND TOURISM
Mr. Speaker: It has been said of Jamaica that “Creativity represents one of its most distinguishable assets and competitive advantages as a country.” As stated in one UNDP report:, “Through its music, fashion, dance, and cuisine, Jamaican culture continues to influence and impact global pop culture as it has done since the introduction of Garveyism, Rastafari, and reggae music.”
Indeed, the power of brand Jamaica, based on our cultural identity is recognized and imitated globally. The export of Jamaica’s music and influence of its entertainment industry with the attendant capital, wealth, positive image and goodwill are integral to the island’s tourism product.
While the symbiotic relationship between the entertainment and tourism sectors is self-evident, this relationship requires constant reassessment if entertainment as a tool for progress, with all the implications for income generation, employment, social cohesion and export earnings, is to be emphasized, strengthened and accelerated.
Mr. Speaker, we are heartened by the recent announcements of substantial investment in local Clubs, night spots, sports bars and gaming lounges which are adding to the local entertainment offering. “Famous”, and “Odyssey” for example, represent more than $290 million in investment over the last six months.
At the same time, in crafting the way forward to emphasize, strengthen and accelerate entertainment as a tool for progress, we are keenly aware of long-standing challenges in managing the local entertainment sector and protecting our share of the international industry as this relates to Jamaican music.
These challenges must be overcome if we are to successfully position entertainment as an engine of economic growth.
Mr. Speaker, well-managed events are catalysts to attract visitors both domestic and foreign. They serve to showcase Jamaica’s diverse entertainment brand while activating public spaces and increasing the linkages between the tourism, entertainment, craft and retails sectors.
Signal initiatives, “90 Days Summer”, and “Kingston for February” have been 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 product while driving growth in the named sectors.
90 Days of Summer
The 90 Days of Summer is a branded package of entertainment which will take place from mid-May to mid-August of each year. The timing of the series will capture a wide variety of events
In capturing the brand essence of Jamaica, 90 Days of Summer will lend excitement and put a ribbon around the tourism product, providing news value, as well as a promotional and marketing hook. It aims at further positioning Jamaica as a unique destination, distinguishing the island from other destinations offering sun, sea and sand.
Expected outcomes of this initiative include:
Mr. Speaker, the JTB has long sought to market Kingston as our “Cultural Capital” and with good reason, based on our tradition of world-class musical output; the universal appeal of Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and so many others, as well as the relative concentration of night life, museums, attractions, galleries and theatres.
Indeed, I find the concept of Kingston being designated a ‘Creative City’, in which cultural activities are integral to the city’s economic and social functioning, to be both fascinating and eminently achievable.
UNESCO designated ‘creative cities’ point to their people as the critical resource. In addition, we can also boast a spectacular natural setting, perfect location and market access. It is well recognized that positioning Kingston to maximize its cultural appeal will have the advantage, not just of wealth creation but an easing of social tensions in inner city communities, and a strengthening of efforts to redevelop neglected areas. My team at the Ministry as well as the EAB are now examining the criteria for application to designate Kingston as a creative city.
Mr. Speaker: “KINGSTON FOR FEBRUARY” is an effort to streamline the activities that are currently sponsored by JTB and the Tourism Enhancement Fund, TEF during Reggae Month.
JTB currently endorses and supports some 15 events throughout the island with the majority being activities in Kingston. This includes Reggae Month activities such as:
In addition, the Tourism Enhancement Fund supports the Dennis Brown Concert and Trench Town Festival as part of the Downtown Kingston Restoration effort.
Mr. Speaker: Kingston currently has an overall occupancy rate of 45% during February. In fact, February 2013 saw Kingston experiencing for the third straight year, an average decline of 2.5% to reach 15,698 visitors of a total of 166,010 stopover arrivals that month. The intent is to use Reggae Month, a yet unpolished gem, to primarily attract more European tourists who typically have longer stays on island and thereby substantially increase occupancy levels in Kingston during this period.
Mr. Speaker, Protection of our creative output and excellence in product quality are the twin strategies to secure and grow our entertainment industry and this is why the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment has been working on the following key programmes to address the challenges:
Mr. Speaker, on the sometimes contentious subject of Noise Abatement, Mr. Speaker, let me advise this Honourable House that the Ministry of National Security, under whose jurisdiction this issue falls, will present a document to the Public Order Committee of Cabinet in short order.
I am able to report, however, that the Ministry of Tourism & Entertainment is working alongside the Ministry of National Security, the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Youth & Culture to amend the Noise Abatement Act. The amendment would introduce ‘Extension Committees’ to hear and grant extensions to the stipulated time during which entertainment events can legally proceed.
It is proposed that Extension Committees be established in each parish across the island to review time extensions on permits. The Police indicate that between January 1 and December 31, 2012 they received 22,122 applications for events/dances across the island, and granted approval to 19,555, making the approval rate 88%. At present, extension requests are sent to the Minister with responsibility for Entertainment who may have little knowledge of the local realities.
The Committee would therefore provide broader community input in the decision-making process for the 19,555 dance/event approvals and alleviate perceptions of bias or collusion in the procedure.
We believe that the introduction of the six-person Parish Appellate Committee will provide increased transparency to the extension granting process.
The proposed six-member Parish Committees would include:
Mr. Speaker: the issue of Entertainment Zoning is an equally vexed one, closely aligned to the matter of ‘Noise Abatement’. I have been quoted as capturing the essence of the Noise Abatement and Zoning debate by referring to the opposing views as the imperative to both ‘eat’ and ‘sleep’.
This is a matter impatient of resolution. Initiatives to strike a reasonable balance between these crucial needs are being examined. One aspect of which includes the Ministry consulting with private equity investors to explore the suitability of entertainment zones using geographical mapping technology. It is proposed that a system be introduced which will see four zones A-D with varying guidelines governing each zone depending on its proximity to residential and commercial areas as well as institutions such as hospitals, hotels and guest houses. Consultations on this pressing matter are ongoing with the aim of arriving at a workable solution.
It has become necessary for the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment to establish an Entertainment Registry aimed at creating an inclusive and effective information hub that facilitates the delivery and administration of the processes necessary for the development of a sustainable entertainment industry.
When operational, the Registry will:
1) Provide a central portal for listing Jamaican entertainment services and companies including their key profile and contact information;
2) Legitimize the entertainment industry for greater economic benefit;
3) Facilitate efficiency and transparency within the entertainment industry.
4) Facilitate free movement of creative skills internationally and
across the Region.
The Ministry of Tourism & Entertainment has met with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade and participated in regional discussions including the 13th Meeting of Officials on the Free Movement of Skills and Facilitation of Travel which took place in September 2012.
The Entertainment Division along with representatives from the Ministry of Culture and JAMPRO formed the Creative Industries/Entertainment contingent to the meeting.
The Division was concerned with Free Movement within the context of travel of artistes, musicians, sportspersons and cultural workers across the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
In this context, the Entertainment Registry will provide economic benefits to practitioners through a Regional Customs Exemptions Regime and other incentives especially those derived from the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and other trade/development Agreements.
Cultural Exemptions Regimes –
Mr. Speaker, Registries of Creative Persons such as that being pursued by this Ministry are found in Trinidad & Tobago, in places like Newfoundland, Canada, at the United States’ Brooklyn Arts Council’s Registry of Artists in NY, among others.
We have very positive expectations that it will operate effectively in our jurisdiction.
Mr. Speaker, we now move to the subject of EVENT RATING. The Event Rating System being pursued by the Ministry of Tourism & Entertainment is intended to provide entertainment practitioners and consumers of entertainment with guidelines as to what is expected and the types of content suitable for varying audiences.
Event Ratings function in three main ways:
Events will be assigned ratings to indicate the degree of caution parents and the general public should exercise, and the content sponsors should take into account in determining whether an event is suitable for their consumption or their brand association.
Promoters and entertainment practitioners will be encouraged to adhere to the rating standards in a number of ways including but not limited to:
DEVELOPMENT AND EXPOSURE
“Arts in the Park”, an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism & Entertainment and the Entertainment Advisory Board is aimed at exposing new and upcoming talent in the creative industries to international market intermediaries.
“Arts in the Park” is a live entertainment series that will take place in parks and open spaces at least twice per year. The first staging of Arts in the Park featured Jamaica’s most recognizable creative export – music – and subsequent stagings will provide developmental opportunities for other areas of the creative industry including dance, fashion, gospel music, the visual arts, and the spoken word.
The first staging of the event was held on Sunday February 24, 2013 at the Hope Botanical Gardens in Kingston.
The inaugural event generated 3 strong leads which the Entertainment Division is working to convert. One additional outcome is a plan for a collaborative programme between our Ministry, The Edna Manley College for the Visual & Performing Arts and JAMPRO to provide further developmental training for artist managers especially those participating in Arts in the Park.
Upcoming Arts in the Park initiatives will feature spoken word and visual arts, gospel, fashion and a 2-day music festival.
It is expected that “Arts in the Park” will provide a forum for exposure of emerging Jamaican talent across creative sectors to energize the local and international markets. Importantly, there will be increased exposure of visitors to quality Jamaican entertainment through the staging of these events in our resort centres.
Mr. Speaker, technology in the delivery of entertainment and training for the entertainment industries is massive and increasing exponentially.
I should like to mention briefly, one project dubbed ‘Project Artiste’ in which HEART Trust NTA will work with corporate sponsors Red Stripe, media partners CVM and Headline Entertainment to develop and deliver various levels of certification in the Creative Arts.
In this partnership to bring exciting, interactive training modules to target audiences via television, we shall be utilizing the synergies which can help to enhance our entertainment output amongst the myriad of poor and under-trained, but wonderfully talented persons. Through initiatives like these we will seek to remedy the situation whereby skills and knowledge relevant to professional participation in the creative industries are inaccessible to a large number of persons who can benefit from such exposure and in turn contribute more meaningfully to the economic growth of our country.
JTB Artiste Ambassador Programme
Mr. Speaker, it is a truism that Jamaica’s artistes have retained their traditional reliance on live performances and the touring circuit.
The Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment will seek to capitalize on this business model by introducing the concept of an Artiste Ambassador Programme. This is a joint initiative between the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Entertainment Advisory Board whereby marketing, media and merchandising support is to be provided to artistes touring in Europe and North America and who often act as ambassadors for Jamaica.
PROTECTION OF REGGAE
Mr. Speaker, there has been much discussion about foreign competition to Jamaican reggae with the increasing use of non-Jamaican talent at many music festivals in Europe and elsewhere. Dub Incorporation and Orange Street out of France, Rasta Power out of Israel are but a few examples of this internationalization. Yes, reggae has been internationalized, but quality and authenticity remain the bedrock of demand and must be protected.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Tourism & Entertainment has been working collaboratively with the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) and the Ministry of Industry, Investment & Commerce on measures to ensure the protection of Reggae. A Cabinet submission from both Ministries will be sent to Cabinet with further collaboration expected between JIPO, ourselves and the Ministry of Youth & Culture.
Reggae may be protected under the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. This is similar to initiatives by Argentina and Uruguay in relation to “Tango”.
In 2009 Tango was inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, on the basis that:
“the Tango is a musical genre that includes dance, music, poetry and singing, and is considered one of the main manifestations of identity for the inhabitants of the Río de la Plata region.”
The formal recognition by UNESCO of reggae as a traditional cultural expression and art form of Jamaica, as Tango is for Argentina and Uruguay, would better enable Jamaica to maintain control over the definition, recognition and identification of the musical form.
This would protect the reggae genre and have the effect of ensuring that more of the economic wealth, moral rights, trade mark and ‘geographically-linked’ benefits, flowing from the use of, indication or designation “reggae”, would be retained in and with Jamaica.
UNESCO recognition of “Reggae” as distinctly Jamaican would also attract funding geared towards the preservation and maintenance of traditional reggae art forms and practitioners. There is also the potential to attract more investors as well as visitors to Jamaica who wish to pilgrim to the ‘Mecca’ of authentic reggae.
Performing Arts Facilitation Centres
Mr. Speaker, the shortage of venues and leisure complexes has dogged our entertainment industry for years. This was recently highlighted in a report on a performance by noted singer Hopeton James in one of our daily newspapers. What caught my eye was the statement: “Although the venue was shabby, lighting poor and the turnout scanty, the music was top class…”
It is widely accepted that there is a need for the construction of performing art spaces, but for a number of reasons including funding, this is not a feasible short-term option. A more practical approach being explored is to upgrade existing spaces creating greater venue access for producers, promoters and patrons. These spaces would already have basic infrastructure in place to mount productions and an upgrade would enhance the technical capacity of the facility and lower the prohibitive costs associated with technical equipment rental.
Based on those considerations, one option for venue upgrade would be improving the auditoriums of a number of our well-recognized secondary educational institutions. Often, a number of these facilities have been used to mount creative work, with the advantage of ease of access by producers and audience alike.
Another deficit that will be addressed by the upgrade is the paucity of editing, sound and lighting technicians and engineers in Jamaica despite the number of music studios and rising number of filmmakers. The project will dovetail with the Ministry of Education’s CSEC curriculum in Theatre Arts and Stage craft which while grooming and producing budding actors/actresses, dancers, directors, choreographers, cultural agent among others, not meeting the technical needs of the creative industries due to the lack of equipment to train technicians in these areas. One production company indicated that they only have one sound and lighting technician and would be hard pressed to find a second technician to cover another event if both happened simultaneously. Mr. Speaker, this is despite the fact that sound and lighting technicians earn on average $25,000 per job!
A recommended action would be effecting an MOU with the Ministry of Education and identified schools to provide access to performing arts venues while keeping cost down, as well as teaching students in the named schools production skills such as sound engineering, lighting and stage craft. This project will, we believe, dovetail with the Theatre Arts and Stage Craft CSEC syllabus.
And now to the WRITTEN WORD …
Jamaica has a proud tradition in poetry – from Claude McKay to Louise Bennett.
The idea of the naming of a Jamaican Poet Laureate came out of the Film, Literary Arts and Fashion Sub-committee of the Entertainment Advisory Board which, through consultations with the literary arts sector, saw this as an excellent means whereby appreciation of this area of the literary arts could be enhanced.
It is interesting to note that the Poetry League of Jamaica “in 1933 recognized Tom Redcam posthumously as Poet Laureate… In 1953 Mr. J.E. Clare McFarlane was recognized as the 2nd Poet Laureate of Jamaica at a civic function and there are references to Claude McKay as Poet Laureate but the designation seems not to have been an official one.
Jamaica has not had a Poet Laureate in 60 years and naming one will raise the status and standard of poetry as it has done in other countries including New Zealand, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados and Canada.
Poet Laureates are selected and named through the National Libraries in a number of countries. The idea was presented to the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) and the Institute of Jamaica which considered the proposal at the Board level and endorsed the concept of a Poet Laureate for Jamaica to be named every three years by a Selection Committee under the aegis of the NLJ.
The Programme, Mr. Speaker, will inspire greater appreciation for poetry as an art form, and widen our entertainment base by providing another avenue for public involvement in the spoken arts.
Mr. Speaker, entertainment is a major feature of Jamaica’s appeal as a visitor destination and expectations in this regard are high among visitors to the island. Our tourism product must include first-class entertainment, renowned for the variety, quality and authenticity, to be enjoyed in our resorts, urban centres and rural communities. This is a major plank in our strategy to enhance the visitor experience for sustainable tourism development.
Optimal results will rest on solid partnerships among stakeholders, the public and private sectors and civil society.
Last year, we sought to define entertainment as a tool for progress. Our continued mission is to emphasize, strengthen and accelerate the link between entertainment and the wider economy and make entertainment an engine of economic growth, as we move enroute to progress. This will no doubt fuel income generation, employment, social cohesion and export earnings.
This is being done by strengthening institutional and policy frameworks to enhance our ‘creative economies’. Within the current, well known financial constraints, we’ll facilitate infrastructural development; access to appropriate space and enhanced intellectual property branding.
Jamaica has long demonstrated the power and global impact of its entertainers and cultural output. Our work to harness this power for social and economic advancement is our top priority Mr. Speaker, and we will not relent in our drive to make entertainment an engine of economic growth as we move enroute to progress.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.