Thu | Feb 27, 2020

Entertainment zones to create ... ecosystem of opportunities

Published:Wednesday | February 12, 2020 | 12:19 AMShereita Grizzle/Staff Reporter
Fort Rocky
Fort Rocky Entertainment Zone.

Despite calls for the two-hour extension for entertainment events to be carried over into Reggae Month, the amendment to the Noise Abatement Act was reversed. Although some parties remain unhappy about the decision, key industry players say the entertainment sphere will now turn its attention to fleshing out plans for identified entertainment zones.

Explaining that balance is necessary for the growth and development of the industry, Ewan Simpson, president of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), said entertainment zones are the best way to ensure everyone wins.

“We have to also be very mindful of the contemporary issues of crime and violence, issues of safety and sensitivity to things like sound when hosting events. A lot of these communities are more developed now, more people are living in these spaces, and so when we could host events on an open lawn, those lawns don’t exist anymore because you now run the risk of playing these speaker boxes outside somebody’s window,” Simpson said at a recently held Gleaner Entertainment Forum.

“We want to see the dance and the sound system set up outside, but the reality is the same people who are saying, ‘it nuh authentic because it nuh outta door’, a di same people who are going to say, ‘hear di vagabonds dem again’, and send police come lock it off. We have to find a way to coexist.

Finding the balance

We have to find that balance that gives entertainment industries the freedom to have their events, but in full recognition that some are not interested in hearing what’s happening at these events, and want to go to sleep for work tomorrow,” Simpson continued.

“That’s where the entertainment zones come in. You just watch and see what’s going to happen in Port Royal just because of the cruise ship pier. It’s going to be an entire reworking of how Kingston functions,” he said. “In time, that will be built out as an entertainment venue. It’s a part of the Fort Rocky entertainment zone. Arrangements will be made to shuttle people to and from the venue. JUTC is ramping up to take advantage of that. They want a list of all the entertainment events that are held in Kingston because they want to take a look at it and come up with ways they can facilitate transportation.”

Simpson also disclosed that in addition to Fort Rocky, the prime minister has identified areas in Montego Bay and St Thomas that will be designated entertainment zones. He says once those sites are developed, the entertainment industry will see immediate benefits. He also went on to state that when these spaces start to flourish, everyone, including the ‘pan chicken man’, will benefit.

“How many times have we seen hotels being fully booked because of a show, Airbnb, car rentals, everything completely sold out,” he questioned. “That is the power of entertainment. We can create an entire ecosystem just by encouraging an entertainment event in a space.”