CASFest opportunities for St Mary's artists
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
During the two and a half years Travis Graham has spent working in St Mary as a manager for the Social Development Commission (SDC), he observed the parish is home to a disproportionately large number of talented creative artists.
Consequently, in 2015 his organisation launched an annual gala, the Creative Arts and Skills Festival (CASFest), to help local artists transform their natural skills and passions into professional enterprises.
The innovative inaugural event proved to be successful, and Graham believes the second staging, which takes place in Port Maria next week, will be even bigger.
Speaking from the SDC's St Mary headquarters in Clonmel, he told Rural Xpress: "If you have a talent and want to learn how to turn that into a business, CASFest 2016 is the place to be because there will be agencies catering for people who are at every stage of the business development process.
"It's a multi-layered event beginning at 9:30 a.m. with a community research and local economic development symposium, where students and members of the public are invited to look at how the SDC's community database and research can assist with business development.
"Between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., there will be simultaneous workshops in film-making, photography and media careers; music management and industry; agro processing; and drama and theatre arts, which is hosted by a very special, young actress who does a lot of plays at the Centrestage Theatre in New Kingston, Camille Davis.
"There will be a business village running throughout the day, where agencies such as the Jamaica Business Development Corporation, the Scientific Research Council and the Jamaica Exporters' Association will provide information, advice, and services to anybody going into business or product development.
"The Jamaica Public Service Company will have some employment opportunities and information about how to make your business energy-efficient; and also in attendance will be a young man from St Mary who established Career Source International, a company that offers overseas employment to university students during the summer."
While CASFest boasts entertainment components such as live music, a wrestling match, and high-school entrepreneur, barbering, and make-up design competitions with cash prizes of up to $15,000; Graham insists the event's primary objective is to educate and inform.
He explained: "CASFest is our flagship project for the SDC'S Local Economic Development Support Programme, which responds to the critical issues of unemployment and employability by encouraging communities and community groups to enter business activities and foster an entrepreneurial spirit.
CASFest takes place on Friday, March 4 at the Claude Stuart Park, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.