Wed | Sep 30, 2020

Proposal offered to market Kingston as a music city

Published:Friday | October 25, 2019 | 12:00 AMMichael Reckord/Gleaner Writer
Coleen Douglas, director of marketing and communications at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, says Kingston should be marketed as a music city.
Culture Yard in Trench Town.

“Across the world, cities are recognising the advantages of leveraging their cultural and creative industries to accelerate economic growth.”

Kingston should do the same, says the director of marketing and communications at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Addressing the topic ‘Marketing the Music City’, at the 2019 Rex Nettleford Arts Conference, held at the college from October 9-11, Coleen Douglas told her audience that Jamaica’s capital city was well situated to carry out the task.

For one, it is a member of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network, which comprises 116 members from 54 countries and covers seven creative fields – crafts & folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, music and media arts. According to the United Nations, Douglas said, there is a growing recognition that the creative sector – music in particular – has tremendous power to transform a country culturally, socially and economically.

She quoted from the UNESCO Creative Economy Report 2013: “The creative economy has become a powerful transformative force in the world today. It is one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the world economy, not just in terms of income generation, but also for job creation and export earnings.”

Douglas revealed that she had drawn up an integrated marketing campaign proposal as a model the city could use. Her 18-month-long campaign, she said, takes into account the fact that Kingston faces a number of development challenges, including massive youth unemployment, and crime and violence. But music would be used as a driver of social change, and the campaign highlights the fact that, as of December 2015, Kingston has had an official designation by UNESCO as a Creative City of Music.

Douglas divides the campaign into three phases and targets specific groups at each stage. The major stakeholders in the groups are policymakers, music industry professionals (inclusive of artistes), the local Kingston community and visitors to Jamaica. Communication challenges to be faced are: too little awareness among music industry practitioners of the Music City status, an absence of a comprehensive Music City plan for Kingston, a fragmented stakeholder network and a weak online presence.

She identified the campaign’s broad goal as “the promotion of Kingston’s City of Music status as a driver of economic growth, tourism development and job creation,” and the objectives as:

1. To set up a stakeholder network among policymakers from development, tourism, entertainment and culture within the first three months to create a master plan for Kingston Music City.

2. To promote a minimum of 12 live events within the first year of the campaign.

3. To establish a digital presence for the Creative City Music brand by the end of the third quarter.

Her target audience would be policymakers and city planners (including the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation, Urban Development Corporation and Ministry of Culture); music industry professionals; young professionals residing in Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine and St Thomas; unemployed youth in the Corporate Area; and tourists.


With the Kingston experience ranging from sophisticated nightlife and dining to street dances and hillside clubbing to conferences and small festivals, Douglas said, the city has the potential to attract a much wider array of tourists if existing attractions are developed.

She listed some of the attractions as the Bob Marley Museum, Trench Town Culture Yard, National Gallery, Hope Gardens, Devon House, Red Stripe and Appleton Rum plants, the Blue Mountains, the University of the West Indies, Kingston’s waterfront and Port Royal, including Fort Charles.

After her talk, I asked her whether the much-publicised violence of the city wouldn’t scare visitors off. She replied:

“I do not believe that the city is particularly violent. I think Kingston has a crime problem and there is cause for concern, but that is something all Jamaicans are conscious of. The truth is, Kingston is a very popular spot for the business visitor, and the new hotels across town is a testament to same.

“I believe that Kingston is sexy with its busy nightlife of live shows, street dances and clubs, and we should focus on marketing that. Marketing of a city is a collaborative activity through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Tourist Board, the Ministry of Culture, and partnership with the private sector, who offer services from accommodation to entertainment.”