Krista Henry, Staff Reporter
If in the 1970s reggae was red, green and gold, then in the next decade it was gold chains - Dub poet Mutabaruka.
The island's entertainment sector remains an underutilised source of income and investment that has barely moved beyond its fledgling stages.
The entertainment sector offers job opportunities in areas such as music, the staging of shows and festivals, the performing arts, television and film, fashion, media, publishing, as well as the technical aspects of production.
Kam-au Amen, coordinator of the newly offered Entertainment and Cultural Enterprise Management programme at the Reggae Studies Unit, University of the West Indies (UWI), tells The Sunday Gleaner: "We are in the age of the rise of creative enterprises. That's where the world is going now. The opportunity to find employment in entertainment is as good as any other, or better than the traditional jobs."
Added to this are opportunities in organisations that are centred around the development of the industry, such as the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, the Recording Institute Association of Jamaica, the Jamaica Federation of Musicians and the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes.
Yet, despite the current global success of the entertainment industry, not too long ago, being employed within the industry was considered taboo by some sections of the society.
For entertainment lawyer Lloyd Stanbury, carving his way into entertainment industry was no easy feat. Back in 1983, when Stanbury began his career, there was only one other person involved in entertainment law.
"I actually had to carve out my own little position when I started. I had to force my way to find a place. I started off by doing various things like producing artistes, events, songs and managing artistes," Stanbury relates. But, despite his years of toiling, Stanbury says he would never want to do anything else, and maintains that the entertainment industry is a viable option.
So, too, does Kingsley Cooper, CEO of Pulse fashion and entertainment company, who has been involved in the industry for over 38 years. There were also few options for him as well when he founded Pulse in 1980.
He recounts: "At the level of entrepreneur, manager and associated professional endeavours, opportunities were seriously limited. The modeling industry, as a professional undertaking was non-existent, as were so many other aspects of entertainment that we now take for granted. The fact is, very few opportunities were 'made available' to anyone. One had to take the bull by the horns and make an effort to learn and succeed. If one failed, there would not be too many sympathisers. The general feeling back then was that one had to have been mad to take the entertainment business seriously."
Now Cooper would encourage a career in entertainment. However, he recommends that interested persons obtain as much training as possible in entertainment management. In addition, "a healthy dose of talent, passion, a clear vision, hard work and determination are necessary to make it big in a growing industry."
Stanbury says: "Things are a lot different now with open doors in education and employment offers."
He notes that various courses in entertainment management such as that which was offered by the former Institute of Management and Production assisted in producing many persons who are now in the business, such as Zachary Harding of West Indies Synthetic Company, television host Winford Williams, Carlette Deleon of Headline Entertainment, Paul Bartlett of Catalyst, and many more. He adds that over the years, HEART/NTA, the Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts and the University of the West Indies (UWI) also have assisted in broadening the field of entertainment.
"There are a number of opportunities, not only for performers, but for support persons, as well. Most people look at entertainment as (involving) just the man in the studio or on the stage, when there are so many other jobs," Stanbury points out.
With regard to improving the entertainment industry, Stanbury laments its informal structure and advocates the formalisation of the business. He says there are numerous things the Government needs to do to assist the business, one of the more critical being training in management and technical areas. More support, he adds, needs to be given to HEART/NTA and UWI.
Kingsley Cooper also argues that the Government needs to take entertainment far more seriously.
"Think of entertainment as legitimate business," he states. "Then, provide infrastructure and work with industry stakeholders to develop an enabling environment in which talent and enterprise can prosper. There is a raft of issues to be addressed, but this can be done once there is a will to succeed."
43,000 persons employed directly by the music industry.
4.6 per cent of total employed labour force in music industry.
12,000 persons employed indirectly to music industry.
Available jobs in the music industry
Management and other professional services
Source: 2000 Study by UWI lecturer Dr. Michael Witter