Wed | Jan 20, 2021

Jamrock summer alive and well – stakeholders

Published:Sunday | August 2, 2020 | 12:00 AMYasmine Peru - Senior Sunday Gleaner Writer
Performers at the 57th year of Independence celebrations at the National Stadium in 2019.
Buju Banton

On Friday, July 17, Koffee officially announced that “summer a keep” when Lockdown, the ultimate feel-good summer banger, “touched road”. By the following Tuesday, the entertainment industry had the go-ahead for the staging of entertainment events of up to 250 persons with the basic social-distancing and sanitising protocols in place. With Lockdown blasting from speakers and partygoers in a vibe, entertainment technocrats, insiders, and stakeholders are hailing the recent reopening of the industry as a success.

The declarations come as festivals, street parties, carnival sessions, and sports bars all welcomed patrons for the first time since the entertainment industry was shuttered due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that emerged in March of this year.

“These last weeks have demonstrated that the Jamrock summer is alive and well,” said Howard McIntosh, chairman of the Entertainment Advisory Board (EAB). Chief among the wins, he says, is the virtual festival ‘A Taste of Reggae Sumfest’, produced by Downsound Entertainment on July 24 and 25. The two-day event registered 275,000 unique views and over three million views across platforms.

On Saturday, the Uppsala Reggae Festival, an annual event held in Sweden, and the Reggae Jam Festival from Germany joined forces to stage the Uppsala Reggae Jam Festival. They switched to the virtual stage this year, with Jamaica as the host country, streaming live from Harry J Studios in Kingston, starting at 11 on Saturday morning. Featuring a slew of acts including Jesse Royal, Kabaka Pyramid, Chezidek, and Mortimer, tickets were on presale for eight €8. Promoter Yared Tekeste told T he Sunday Gleaner: “The response has been overwhelming. A lot of people from Africa and Europe have shown appreciation for the timing, which suits them.”


Stating that “no other country in the world has the tremendous offering of festivals, parties, and cultural offerings for 21 days, beginning from Sumfest to Grand Gala on August 6”, McIntosh urged all the promoters and event organisers to host safe and exciting events over the next week, including Dream Weekend’s ‘Park Up and Tun Up’ and ending with the virtual Grand Gala.

The EAB congratulated Buju Banton on his win in the 2020 Jamaica Festival Song Competition with I Am A Jamaican.

Chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association Ewan Simpson pointed to the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s pivoting to stage its range of competitions – the Jamaica Festival Gospel Song Competition, the Jamaica Festival Song Competition, and the Perform A Yaad Performing Arts Competition, in place of the National Festival of the Performing Arts – virtually.

“The fact that our young people were able to showcase dance, drama, music, and speech, as well as express traditional folk forms in creative, compelling ways online, at short notice, reminds us that we are capable of greatness even in adversity,” Simpson said.

With the reopening of the entertainment sector, patrons have the opportunity islandwide to enjoy staples such as Uptown Mondays, MVP, and Weddy Weddy; visit sports bars; and support round robins. “These entertainment events are the lifeblood of the Jamaican economy. Small events are essential for a community’s economic health. They form the basis for incomes to provide school fees, uniforms, school books, and basic necessities,” McIntosh stated.

The EAB had made several presentations with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport to affirm the importance of a valuation of the entertainment industry and its phased reopening. EAB members Kamal Bankay and Lenford Salmon, who have also been at the forefront of the charge for the reopening, stressed the need for compliance and adherence to the guidelines and protocols established for the phased reopening. Successful compliance and completion of the first phase will be critical to allowing the industry to move to phase two.

A review of phase one will be conducted this week.