Sun | Feb 17, 2019

An AIR of opportunity for Trench Town

Published:Monday | January 21, 2019 | 12:09 AM
From left: In the Jamaica Music Institute (JaMIN) Recording Studio and Pro Tools Engineering Laboratory are Fitzroy 'Dave Primteime' Green, studio manager; Orlando 'Lanz' Francis, recording artiste; Paul 'Kadray' Hendricks, recording artiste; Hasia McLennon, sound engineer; Dr. Henley Morgan, founder and executive chairman of the Agency of Inner-City Renewal (AIR); and Aldeno 'Deno' Stewart, recording artiste. Through the studio, AIR provides an outlet for youth in Trench Town to express their creativity and turn their passion into profit. Last year the community organisation launched an improvement project to better serve community members and expand its reach. The initiative was supported by the Desnoes and Geddes (D&G) Foundation through a donation of $100,000 as part of the company's '100 For A Century' gifts to Jamaica campaign during D&G's 100th anniversary celebrations.

 

In keeping with its heritage as the cradle of Reggae music, one not-for-profit organisation in Trench Town is continuing its efforts to help residents of the inner-city community create opportunities for themselves in the music industry. The Agency of Inner-City Renewal (AIR), through the Jamaica Music Institute (JaMIN) Recording Studio and Pro Tools Engineering Laboratory, recently expanded its capabilities.

"Our specialised recording studio offers vulnerable youth exposure in music entrepreneurship, as well as the opportunity to get certified in sound engineering and artiste recording and performance," expressed Dr Henley Morgan, founder and executive chairman of AIR.

The community organisation launched an improvement project last year and has already received support from the Desnoes and Geddes (D&G) Foundation. JaMIN was among 56 beneficiaries which received a share of $5.6 million donated as part of D&G's 100th anniversary celebrations in 2018.

"D&G's contribution to our facility upgrade will allow us to broaden our reach [to] the number of residents we serve, as well as improve the studio's sustainability by offering services than can generate revenue. For that, we are extremely grateful to the company for acknowledging the work we do in such a tangible way," shared Dr. Morgan.

Board member of the Desnoes and Geddes Foundation, Dianne Ashton-Smith applauded the NGO for its work in Trench Town and said supporting the cause was not a difficult decision.

"Through a partnership with The Gleaner, we reached out to Jamaicans and asked them to nominate community projects that would have significant impact. AIR and its work in Trench Town fit the criteria perfectly. We believe in the power of the arts and the value of self-expression so JaMIN recording studio will create a tremendous opportunity for young creatives to unleash their talent and reap economic returns," she noted.

Among those creatives is 22-year-old Trench Town resident, Hasia McLennon, who can attest to the value of the facility.

"After completing the AIR certification programme at JaMIN recording studio, I'm able to do what I love as a sound engineer. I earn a living by working with artistes and creating big songs. Being here makes me excited to see what's in store for my future in music."

Making a change in Trench Town

In its 12 years of operation, AIR has proven to be a driver of social entrepreneurship and a forerunner in the social enterprise movement. The organisation's influence is already being felt, with stakeholders pointing to AIR's work as one of the factors contributing to a reduction in crime and social improvement nearby communities such as Arnett Gardens, Rose Town, Greenwich Town, Wilton Gardens and Federal Gardens.

Bridging the gap between residents and employers, AIR operates as a third-party contract labour outsourcing outfit. The team interacts with employers to identify job vacancies, while working with community members to solicit job applications and place successful candidates. The programme also provides community members with employability skills sets to help them secure opportunities.

With the aim of transforming the neighbourhood into a place for opportunities, investment and wealth, AIR promotes community development and social inclusion so that residents have more chances to succeed.

"Our job is very fulfilling, especially when we witness the lives of those we came in contact with change for the better. It makes the job rewarding and that feeling motivates us to continue and work harder for the people of Trench Town," Dr Morgan said.