THERE IS now a greater level of community involvement in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's Festival of the Performing Arts activities this year.
According to Delroy Gordon, Field Services Director at the JCDC: "The JCDC's parish activities are monitored by parish cultural committees, a voluntary group of persons. This year they not only organise and stage events at the parish level, but are involved at the national level, providing funding for their respective groups".
He also said this new thrust was launched earlier this year, when the JCDC staged its 2001 launch of festivities at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre, Hope Road.
The parishes were asked to erect booths and display things peculiar to their respective areas and focus on cuisine, artefacts, textile, fauna and flora among other things.
Mrs. Pusey-Reid, parish manager at the JCDC's St. Catherine Parish Office, told The Gleaner: "There is tremendous participation at the community level, especially in zones (villages). The idea of decentralising events and special projects has been working well, especially in getting grassroots participation. We found that, because people are involved at all stages of the various projects, the support is much greater. However, in terms of financial support, this is lacking but assistance in kind is encouraging."
The involvement of civic organisations at the community level has enabled the JCDC to benefit from their expertise.
"This year we asked our parish committees to involve more local talent at festival shows, with a view to stimulate interest in festivities and to develop talent in the various areas. As a result parish committee budgets for various activities were reduced drastically. We are now able to showcase more artistes across the island." This year the JCDC has seen increased sponsorship at the community level for calendar events such as the National Festival Queen Competition, National Popular Song Contest and the Gospel Song Festival, among others. At the parish level we have received sponsorship close to a $100,000 for Festival Queen shows".
Mr. Gordon also said that the JCDC's parish cultural committees are being implored to carry out responsibilities through the effective use of low-budget activities. He expressed confidence that this year's Festival will be the best in terms of participation at all levels.
A special monitoring unit at the JCDC The Events Co-ordination and Production unit was set up to assist the parish committees in monitoring all shows planned at the local level.
Orrett Symister, JCDC's Regional Manager, Western Region, spoke highly of the Unit and said, it is not only necessary for the parish committees, but will also benefit other civic organisations, which from time to time request such assistance from the JCDC. He also praised the JCDC for its drive to get parish activities to generate income.