Thu | May 24, 2018

Ibo Cooper dreams of cash-rich Reggae Month

Published:Saturday | February 3, 2018 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle/Gleaner Writer
Bob Marley
Dennis Brown
Ibo Cooper
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Ibo Cooper said that he is longing for the day when Reggae Month will bring about the kind of buzz that could boost the country's economy in a significant way.

"I'm dreaming of a Reggae Month where thousands of visitors flock the island to participate in the different activities, where every gas station run outta gas because dem burn out in carrying people around the place," he said.

"I want you to envision a Reggae Month when all the jerk chicken sell off and everybody a lick dem finger ... , the jerk chicken man and Mr CB, and everybody else. Unless we have vision, we perish, and I want us to realise that this is where we want to go," he added.

Cooper, chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), was speaking at the first Open University discussion for Reggae Month 2018 at the Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts on Thursday evening.

He argued that in order for Reggae Month to become the economic contributor he dreams of, individuals need to contribute to the organisation spearheading the month of celebrations. This year, Reggae Month activities will be managed by a steering committee comprising representatives of JaRIA as well as the ministries of tourism and culture, gender, entertainment, and sports. The inclusion of government entities in the planning and execution has led to the injection of $15 million from the Tourism Enhancement Fund.

On Thursday, Cooper, who is co-chair of Reggae Month, proposed the creation of an economic model that would allow JaRIA to become self-sufficient.

"One weak area that JaRIA is going to fix is the area of co-operation and the area of collective. If you don't understand what a collective is, plenty Jamaican people throw partner, and that is a collective. We're going to encourage people to throw partner with JaRIA. It's $2,500 for the year and here is what will happen when you throw your partner," he said.

"The industry could change the nation and the likkle partner could help JaRIA reach across the nation and deal with the issues. The music industry in Jamaica, at this point, does not realise its own strength. Every single occasion in this country requires music church, funeral, wedding, political campaign, christening, social function, corporate function, school function and I could go on. We are still asking for sponsorship when having some events. The partner will lead to the industry one day putting on something for itself," Cooper said.

February is celebrated as Reggae Month. The event, organised by JaRIA since 2009, is use to pay homage to the genre of music that gifted the world musicians such as Bob Marley and Dennis Brown.