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One World in Kingston - Ska & rocksteady festival on Nov 26

Published:Friday | August 12, 2016 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange.
Julian 'Jingles' Reynolds.

Speaking at the official launch of the first annual One World Ska & Rocksteady Music Festival at The Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, on Tuesday, Colin Leslie set a context of time for the organisers and Jamaican popular music.

He said the Sounds and Pressure organisation was established in 2006 on the 50th anniversary of Jamaican popular music. A decade later, they are putting on a festival which Sounds and Pressure CEO, Julian 'Jingles' Reynolds, positioned as not being solely about music, but also the city at the hub of Jamaica's popular music forms. Living abroad made him appreciate how people in other places valued Jamaica's music; a visit to New Orleans in 1995 changed his thinking about the value of culture.




So, Reynolds said, the One World Ska & Rocksteady Music Festival is "to benefit the people of Kingston" and is intended to spur cultural tourism in the city. Slated for Saturday, November 26, at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, Hope Road, it coincides with the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in the USA, raising travel possibilities from the large nearby market.

Reynolds said the World Trade Organisation estimated the festival travel market at 10 million persons. Going after 0.3 per cent of that figure, he is eventually hoping for 30,000 visitors to "the birthplace of Jamaican music". In this first year, though, it is estimated that the festival can attract 2,000 tourists and 5,000 Jamaicans, as outside Jamaica it is geared towards persons in the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, South America, Asia and Japan.

A roster of performers was not announced, a list of potential feature performers with whom negotiations are ongoing was provided by the organisers.

National Integrity Action (NIA) is a major sponsor of the One World Ska & Rocksteady Festival. Its chairman, Trevor Monroe, whose message was read by Toni-Ann Doyley as he was ill, said the support is part of the NIA's thrust in sports and entertainment, both of which are important if the nation is to develop an environment for greater integrity.

"The One World Ska & Rocksteady Music Festival will be a critical event in that process," Monroe's message read.

The NIA expects more collaborations with popular culture.

The Jamaica Tourist Board is also a sponsor of the festival, and Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett described it as "bringing home to us something we have been losing in this country". He outlined the possibility of an annual festival calendar for Jamaica to attract visitors, accompanied by the requisite infrastructure improvement.

Citing the music experiences in countries like Cuba and Argentina, Bartlett said, "When you come to Jamaica, there must be reggae 24/7 like those other places."

He gave a general call for events to generate that experience, saying persons should come to the Government with the festivals and the programmes, but they should be sustainable and high-quality, suitable for marketing. The One World Ska & Rocksteady Music Festival qualifies, and Bartlett said, "I will be talking about it when I go to Canada, starting the end of this month."




Significant planning is required for the events, as Minister of Culture, Gender Affairs, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange said it takes at least two years to organise and market a festival properly. She gave the example of the World Music Festival in Montego Bay in 1982 as an example of putting an event together (save for the two-year lead time). With Peter Tosh, the Beach Boys, Aretha Franklin and the Grateful Dead among those on the line-up, preparations were made for camping, including 7,000 of the Grateful Dead's loyal following.

"If we are able to do it right, we can't lose," Grange said.

Part of doing it right is taking care of those who come and earlier Reynolds to be courteous and fair to visitors for the One World Ska & Rocksteady Festival, so they will be "inspired and want to go back to their countries and tell others of the experience they had".