Mon | Oct 22, 2018

One-day conference held on International Reggae Day

Published:Sunday | July 5, 2015 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Part of the crowd at last year's Rebel Salute. Unlike the strong turnout for concerts, there was a small gatering for the International Reggae Day 2015 conference last Wednesday.

Last Wednesday, International Reggae Day (IRD) was celebrated across the globe, with events in Miami, Ft Lauderdale and New York (USA), Honolulu (Hawaii), Bombay (India), as well as London (England), Rio (Brazil), Mexico City, and Madrid (Spain).

The home of reggae was not to be left out of the activities marking the momentous occasion. The birthplace of reggae celebrated the 21st anniversary of IRD with a conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston. The all-day event featured a number of sessions, discussing various issues surrounding reggae music and its development, identifying problems the genre faces within the music industry, and offering solutions in

moving forward.

Several influential persons tied to the music industry gave their input on different topics, from securing Jamaica's competitive advantage in the global market to the importance of the Jamaican sound system.

Although there was much to learn from the experienced panellists, the event was poorly attended. Very few people took the time to show up at the conference, despite it being free and open to the public. Those in attendance found this to be very disturbing. One guest told The Gleaner that he expected to see a lot more people turn out for the event, given that reggae music belongs to Jamaica. As a first-time attendee and a lover of reggae music, the French native, expressed his disappointment at what he said was the unwillingness of the Jamaican people to learn more about something that is uniquely theirs.

Other guests agreed, stating that the turnout was too low for an event of that magnitude. "There is so much knowledge being shared here today," said one guest. "This is such a great opportunity for people to learn more about reggae music and our culture and I just wished there were more people here to witness and share in the knowledge."

Despite the low turnout, the conference boasted a compact programme centred on reggae. So engaging were the presentations that many of them went beyond the stipulated time slots, leading the programme to be extended beyond the intended cut-off time. Those in attendance enjoyed getting the chance to get an inside look at the industry, to the extent that they expressed the need for the conference to be held for two extra days.

"One day is just not enough," said one man, visiting from France. "So many of the speakers had to cut their presentations short due to time that I felt like we were robbed. It needs to be a two-day event. because there is way too much to learn to just have it all in one go."

Some of the speakers included Dr Carolyn Cooper, Javier Figueras from HBO and Cordell Green, executive director of the Broadcasting Commission. The IRD also presented its digital art exhibit, celebrating Jamaican music, projected on a wall of the Pegasus.