By Ayanna Kirton, Staff Reporter
A reveller in the Jamaica Carnival road march last year. This year, Byron Lee's Jamaica Carnival will be scaling down and taking a break from the road march. - File
JAMAICA Carnival's organisers have scaled down their participation in this year's festivities.
Byron Lee's Jamaica Carnival has opted to return to its roots to take part in the University of the West Indies (UWI) Carnival, which gave birth to carnival in Jamaica. Mr. Lee's organisation did not provide reasons for the action, but Wednesday Business was told that among their problems was a decline in participation by its core supporters.
"We are taking a break from the road march this year and coming back with something new and better in 2004." said Andrea Gordon, a representative of Jamaica Carnival. They have adopted a low-keyed approach to this year's celebrations, shown in the reduction in promotion of the season's events.
Floyd Green, UWI's chairman of Cultural and Entertainment Affairs, says Jamaica Carnival's presence in UWI's celebrations will help to re-energise public interest in carnival.
After a one-year absence in 2000, UWI Carnival itself was revived in 2001, but without the appeal and excitement associated with celebrations of former years.
"With Jamaica Carnival helping us, it will have a greater impact on Kingston and Jamaica," Mr. Green said. "We are taking Carnival into a new dimension, trying to bring back younger energy without alienating the older people."
Jamaica Carnival's initial appeal had been to young soca lovers in their early twenties, Mr. Green said. In recent years, however, interest waned as the core market got older and less inclined to revel their nights away.
This year's collaboration is aimed at helping Jamaica Carnival reconnect with the young, and provide a boost to campus carnival activities, Mr. Green said.
Although UWI Carnival is not an income generator for the Guild of Students, its success is dependent on a substantial investment of time and money. Mr. Green pointed out that the Jamaica Carnival camp was instrumental in sourcing sponsorship and providing stages and equipment necessary for the events and the road march, which will be held on March 1 at the UWI.
The University of Technology (UTech) has also come on board to partake in this year's celebrations. Like the UWI, UTech has a fairly large population of Caribbean students but due to academic obligations and the high cost of airline tickets, many are unable to return home to their own islands as often as they would like.
"Many of our students miss their homes and their culture," Mr. Green said. "Our carnival helps to fill that void and helps to (quell) that sense of longing. We bring a piece of home to them."