KOTE 2015 focuses on transitions
The 2015 Kingston on The Edge (KOTE) Urban Art Festival starts on Friday, June 19, with a mix of film, music and art at Redbones Blues Café, New Kingston. It is the first of 10 days packed with activities easily calculated by some other numbers - 34 events, 31 venues and over 300 participating artists.
However, those figures are no measure of KOTE 2015 as Enola Williams, one of the organisers of the festival first staged in 2007, speaks enthusiastically about several elements which make its theme of 'Transitions' real. They include among families, teachers and students, and even some of the spaces in which KOTE 2015’s activities will be held.
Williams points out that the transitions begin on opening night; performer Nadia Harris-McAnuff is related to Rashaun ‘Kush’ McAnuff of Uprising Roots, which will also perform on the festival opener, along with Skygrass, Lethal Audio and The Wizard - who is Beres Hammond’s daughter.
There is honouring of transition of another sort too, as the film, 10 Years in Afflicted Yard, done in tribute to the late Peter Dean Rickards, will be shown.
The word ‘edge’ is laden with potential for transitions - an edge that cuts through barriers or taking a step off the edge in the faith of landing on something new and supportive. So although Williams does not use edge or transitions in summing up the purpose of KOTE, she may well have spoken about transitions of appreciation between classes and art being a sharp edge through social barriers. “The purpose of the festival is to show that art can be accessible in all its forms to anyone, irrespective of background. Kingston is a very creative city and there is a lot to focus on,” Williams said.
The theme is carried through all the way to the last event on Sunday, June 28, Fade Away: Opera Meets Nyabinghi Orchestra… Introducing the Binghestra. The fusion of Rastafari drumming and classical instruments, with compositions by Jon Williams and Peter Ashbourne, as well as original works by Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith and Ras Michael, will be held at the Ward Theatre in downtown Kingston.
There is hope that the event will continue the effort to restore the Ward. “It is still in a state of disrepair. There is actually a younger set which does not know what it is all about. It is important to renovate. It will take a lot of effort and time, but it is important,” Williams said.
Music played in the closing concert could make a contribution to the restoration effort. “Chinna’s idea is to record the pieces and some of the proceeds go towards the Ward,” Williams said.
There is a lot in between the opening and closing events. On Thursday, June 25, Barrington Watson: From Master to Student, shows the transfer of knowledge from teacher to student. The day before, Antwain Clarke and Richard Nattoo exhibit at 10A West Kings House Road. And even before that, on Sunday, June 21, the 1891 Kingston World Expo Revisited: Downtown Bus Tour starts at Wolmer’s, Heroes Circle.
That tour will be led by architect Evan Williams. Enola noting that it goes all the way up to Immaculate Conception High School on Constant Spring Road, where the convent was once a hotel. Linked with the developments is a foundation for tourism which had far-reaching effects.
A striking blend is on stage at the Bandstand, Hope Gardens, on Saturday, June 27, where there will be live musical performances, poetry, animated short film and capoeira.
Williams points out that many of the events, such as at the Kingston Dub Club, Skyline Drive, on Sunday, June 21, and Vinyl Thursdays at Meskel Square, Cross Roads, on Thursday, June 25, are pre-existing events which are being brought under the umbrella of KOTE 2015. They will continue when the festival is over.
She points out that there is an app for the festival, which will allow persons to share photographs, as well as follow updates from the KOTE organisers. “It will give you reminders about what you want to go to,” Williams said.
The festival is being supported by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), Atlas, Lithographic Printers, Wisynco, Hope Zoo, Redbones, Spanish Court Hotel and the Ward Theatre Foundation.