Tue | May 26, 2020

An avenue for emerging artistes

Published:Sunday | August 25, 2019 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams - Arts and Education Writer

Patrons who attended the Carib Collective musical showcase on Wednesday, August 14, at 2a Strathairn Avenue in St Andrew were treated to an eclectic mix of music from emerging artistes Yeza, Earth and the Fullness, Notis Heavyweight Rockas, Sarah Couch, I-Purple, and Yeza, whose presentations were fresh and engaging.

“This event is our love letter to the local art community. We wanted to throw a party to showcase the emerging talent we’ve been working with, as well as thank our partners,” Kelli Blake, project director, said. She is a second-year Jamaican graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in creative leadership at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, the United States.

“For the last two years, I’ve been researching and writing about creatives throughout the region (the Caribbean) trying to better understand their pain points and create viable solutions. For my capstone project, I launched my minimum viable product (MVP), which is a scaled-down version of what I would offer if this were a real venture,” she told The Gleaner.

Right here in Jamaica, her MVP took the form of a free legal and business clinic open to all visual and performing artists, as well as film-makers. Most of them took part in the legal clinic, while others benefited from the marketing clinic.

“They all came to me through different channels. There were a few ads on Facebook. I sent e-blasts to affinity organisations, JAFTA, JAVAA, etc. Others I met at different events throughout Kingston, like Christmas in July,” she said.


After the legal and marketing sessions, it was time for the artistes to show what they were made of musically. “The real objective was to give the artistes who participated in one way or another a platform. I was able to get two on-air interviews, which was something they both really wanted. Some may have just needed the opportunity to perform; perfecting your stage presence takes practice,” Blake said.

In assessing the project itself and the performances, which got overwhelming support from the audience, Blake told Arts and Education: “Essentially, my goal is to provide a support system for artistes. I’m pretty hard on myself, so I see so many things that could’ve been improved. But I also have to be honest with myself that this is not a business venture and was not intended to make a profit and I had no budget … . I also got really good feedback about what to do for our next show.”

She said that she was proud of the fact that she was able to facilitate exposure for the artistes, introduce people to their music, and give them a small honorarium to cover costs.

“I’m hoping that if I get the opportunity to do this again – if I could be so blessed to be in the presence of such talented and humble individuals – that I can create a standard where artistes begin to get the respect, professional resources, and money they deserve. To quote one of our featured bands creatives ‘are the builders’,” Blake said.