Reggae Month on firm foundation
With the Reggae Village at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, Hope Road, St Andrew, now its stable home, the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) is well prepared for February's staging of Reggae Month 2015.
Charles Campbell, executive director of JaRIA, said, "I think at this stage we are more ready than we have ever been. The great thing about this year is that we have the Reggae Village at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre."
When Reggae Month came to the fore in 2008, most of the events were held at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts on Arthur Wint Drive. In subsequent years, events were held at Emancipation Park in New Kingston.
With the Reggae Village now the base, Campbell explained that planning and executing Reggae Month is more seamless than in previous years.
"That facilitates a more orderly planning and execution process. We have been developing templates over the past six years, so it isn't that we are starting from square one anymore. There is a basic plan to support the work. I think this will be our best year ever," he said.
"Now we can convert that template into a blueprint going forward for the next five years. So, in that way, it has been easier. We have experience to guide us."
And with those years of experience, Campbell said it has also been easier to deal with private and public partners as "they know the product, so the discussion is moving along speedily".
So far, he said, JaRIA has been in advanced talks with the Jamaica Tourist Board, Ministry of Youth and Culture, Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, CHASE Fund and Wisynco. He added that support from the electronic media has been strong.
Campbell added that the line-up for the numerous events being planned is about 90 per cent complete and most of the required services have already been booked.
With many acts secured, he promised that the Reggae Village will remain open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with numerous activities throughout each day. Some of the 29 events being held during the 28 days of February are Reggae Wednesdays, Live Tuesdays, Vinyl Thursdays, Friday Mixer, Reggae Praise, Stone Love For Lovers, Open University and a lunch hour concert that will be held daily. Another major event on the line-up is the JaRIA Honour Awards, which will be held on February 28.
And based on how well Reggae Month has done in previous years, Campbell said it is now getting much overseas attention.
"For the past two years we have gone international with our promotion. More and more persons are coming into Kingston for the month of February. Based on the feedback, we certainly expect a much larger influx of visitors and Jamaicans abroad coming for it," he told The Sunday Gleaner.
In addition to the strong international presence, Campbell said he expects Reggae Month to "unearth some of the new acts that have been honing their talent". He noted that he also hopes the Open University will stimulate some interesting discussions.