Thu | Nov 23, 2017

Culture Clubs to gain strength in numbers

Published:Wednesday | November 15, 2017 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange (centre) signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Interim Executive Director of the JCDC, Orville Hill (l) to expand the Culture Passport programme. The Passport will enable holders to access heritage sites or cultural events free of charge or at a reduced cost. The signing was witnessed by Her Excellecny the Most Honourable Lady Allen (r); Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr Janice Lindsay and Director of Marketing and Public Relations, JCDC, Stephen Davidson. Also photographed are from left; Culture Club members Damion Shields, Bethel College; Trevaugn Francis and Danae Gordon, Denbigh High School.

Stronger; that is what the islandwide Culture clubs programme will be following the merger of three agencies under the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport. The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) culture clubs, Jamaica National Heritage Trust heritage clubs and the Jamaica National Council - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (JNC-UNESCO) clubs, will now be operating under one umbrella in an effort to make the initiative more impactful.

According to Stephen Davidson, director of marketing and public relations at the JCDC, the programme was birthed to close out any deficits relating to culture and preserving the nation's history especially among the youth population.

"There is some deficit where retaining our history and what makes us uniquely Jamaican is concerned especially among our youth," he explained. "You know with cable and the Internet and so many other things, they are exposed to so much that will capture their attention and influence their minds and we just want to ensure that while they are learning about the world and adopting things from other cultures, they remember their foundation, because that is important."

Stephens revealed that so far, the reception to the programme has been great and he expects that with the merger, further success is undeniable.

"I think it's definitely working. We are doing different things to attract them (young people). The culture club passport programme is one of them. That initiative allows members to go to different heritage sites and engage in other cultural activities for free or at a discounted rate," he said. "In terms of combining the three clubs, it is definitely a great idea. We will have more resources to share and there is a bigger membership, so the club itself will have more impact on the school community as well as when they do activities outside of that. There is definitely strength in numbers, so with the combined knowledge, the programme can only get better."

Highlighting the uniqueness of the Jamaican culture, Stephen explained that there is a global desire for all things Jamaican. He believes that if young people grasp the latter enough to want to pass on the legacy to future generations, then the programme would have achieved its mandate.

"What they (young people) need to learn is that with Jamaica, people can copy everything else, but they can't copy our culture and who we are as a people," he said. "We are a global super power in terms of culture and we want young people to carry on our rich legacy. They are the future generation and we want them to appreciate the culture and appreciate their foundation and we want to do that in a fun way."

He also encouraged persons who are not already involved in the Culture Club programme, to do so, as the preservation of Jamaica's heritage depends on it.

Consultations

Consultations regarding the merger have already begun, as the three entities plan how to improve the programme. This first session was held last week and was hosted by the JCDC's eastern region, which comprises St Thomas, Kingston and St Andrew, and St Catherine.

Consultations will continue this Friday (November 17) in the central region at Munro College, St Elizabeth. The next will be held in the Western Region at the St John's Methodist Church in St James on November 24. The final, in the northern region, will be held on December 1 at the St Mary's Anglican Church Hall in Port Maria.

Regional culture club consultations are held once per year under the chairmanship of the JCDC's regional manager. There are more than 250 registered clubs across the island. This year's culture club consultations are being held under the theme 'Engineering a Culture of Unity and Love'.