Thu | Dec 12, 2019

Low turnout for International Reggae Day Conference

Published:Wednesday | July 6, 2016 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Olivia 'Babsy' Grange
Bob Marley

There was a wealth of information to soak up at this year's staging of the International Reggae Day (IRD) Conference, but like last year, there were hardly enough people in attendance to take advantage of all that the event had to offer.

On Friday, July 1, reggae music was celebrated on a global scale. According to the IRD organisers, the excitement was at a fever pitch in several countries globally, as more than 35 cities across the world celebrated the music that gave the world legends like the iconic Robert Nesta Marley.

At home though, the level of excitement was far less than that talked about in other countries. Although there were many activities scheduled to take place throughout IRD, one couldn't help but notice that the enthusiasm wasn't the same in the home of reggae especially, if one was present at the IRD conference.

The event held recently at the Jamaica Pegasus' Port Antonio Ballroom, was free and open to the public but was poorly attended especially from industry personnel. Very few entertainers, producers, record label owners etc., bothered to turn up at the conference despite the fact that the topics discussed would have been highly beneficial to them.

The conversations that took centre stage at this year's conference surrounded The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO's) decision to officially designate Kingston as a creative city. Discussions were therefore centred on how Jamaica could further develop the city and use the UNESCO designation to further market the island internationally.

Minister of Culture, the Honourable Olivia 'Babsy' Grange attended the conference. She thoroughly engaged the audience, presenting ideas on how Jamaica could capitalise on the UNESCO designation while stating that her government was dedicated to developing the country's creative industries.

In her address, Minister Grange said that while she was happy that Jamaica has shared the gift of reggae music with the world, it is no secret that the country has earned far less from it, than some other places globally.


creative industries


"We are proud that reggae has long been embraced by the world, as too the icons who make the music. However, in all this, we need to realistically evaluate ourselves as we come to terms with the fact that although music forms a large chunk of our cultural and creative industries, which are critical to Jamaica's economic prosperity, we have not earned as much from it as we ought to. In fact, others in the world now earn more from our music than we do," she said, vowing that as Minister of Culture, she is prepared to do what it takes to ensure Jamaica begin to earn more from its music.

She continued, "Today I'm prepared to lead the charge to reverse this trend and reposition Jamaica as not only the source but also the authentic base of what is reggae music. Earning from our talent is something that should be a natural thing."

Grange then went on to state that her ministry is currently poised to take advantage of the UNESCO designation to add more value to the cultural and creative industries.

The IRD conference held at the Jamaica Pegasus, was streamed live to the 35 participating cities across the globe this year. The annual celebration of reggae music has seen immense growth on the international level - 35 cities across the world were involved in this year's activities moving up from 25 last year and three in 2014.