CASFest opens door for St Mary residents
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
Around 600 students and aspiring entrepreneurs packed into Claude Stuart Park in Port Maria, St Mary, on Friday for the parish's third annual Creative Arts and Skills Festival (CASFest).
The event, which was hosted by the Social Development Commission (SDC), featured celebrity workshops, competitions, and opportunities for small and independent traders to showcase products and speak with organisations such as the Companies Office of Jamaica about how to formalise their businesses.
The SDC'S local economic development coordinator for St Mary and St Ann, Tamiqua Silvera, told Rural Xpress: "CASFest is held to unearth, expose, and stimulate economic growth in St Mary. This parish is known for, and has a wealth of, skill sets that involve the creative arts, so today's activity focused on tying that in with wealth creation.
"Wealth creation is a global issue and because Jamaicans are competitive, St Mary has to be competitive within Jamaica, so we want to equip people with enough information so they can make informed decisions.
"What's happening here is very important because the data show that unemployment is a problem, particularly among the youths. Some of the contributing issues are a lack of education and drive, and a high dependency on politicians because few people are informed enough to know that politicians guide and implement policy, but power really lies with the people.
"The SDC team in St Mary are responsive and relevant because they're using data to drive what they are doing and as a result, CASFest was loaded, but done in a palatable way because people are interested in music and fanfare; they no longer want to be sitting in community meetings for hours talking about local issues and fixing roads. They want immediate answers because we live in a time of instant gratification."
Speaking afterwards, the SDC's manager for St Mary, Travis Graham, who conceived and organised the event, said: "CASFest is still building, but moving from strength to strength. This year, we had participation from eight of the parish's 11 schools, and new sponsors have come forward and said they want to be on board for next year.
"We've had some great feedback on our business village, and the support from the Jamaica Public Service Company, Oxford Gas, the St Mary Municipal Corporation, and the local police's Community Safety and Security Branch has been phenomenal.
"A few people were able to register businesses with the Companies Office of Jamaica, a lot of persons got info on trademarks and copyrights from the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office, and the Jamaica Exporters' Association identified some groups they said have serious potential.
"The make-up design workshop, led by Andrea Creary, and the drama and theatre arts, and film making workshops, led by Donovan Watkis, were also very popular. Because of CASFest, I think a lot of persons are beginning to have a greater appreciation for our Local Economic Development Support Programme, and more stakeholders are seeing the event as a creative arts business fair, rather than a festival, which is ultimately what we want."