Music and film expo to stir up exciting possibilities for Ja
Published: Sunday | November 15, 2009
Jamaica is poised to take its place on the world stage next year when it hosts the first international film and music expo in the region called Stir It Up.
The organiser, Wayne Sinclair, said the idea for the expo, which will be held in Montego Bay from September 5 to 11, was born after he attended the Brussels Colloquium in April. From the conference, he said, one of the recommendations was that ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) countries, "need to be developing a more structured sense of networking activities among themselves."
Over the four years he had been doing consultancy work with the European Union (EU) ACP Secretariat, Sinclair said he has always been bombarded by persons asking when Jamaica would be hosting an international conference or expo. Hence, the idea was born and he began planning the event in April with his colleagues from the ACP region.
"The focus is to match the creative producers from the south with the creative consumers from the north. Everybody can come here and network," Sinclair told The Sunday Gleaner.
The expo will have three key components. There will be the conference and convention that will include the networking, workshops and panel discussions. There will also be a public participation component. Contestants from across the ACP can upload film and music to the Stir It Up website (stiritupexpo.com). From this, 10 film-makers and 10 musicians will be chosen, via online voting, to perform on the showcase.
"What we're putting together is like a cultural World Cup. It's going to be a global online contest," Sinclair told The Sunday Gleaner.
He said the finalists will be competing in Jamaica for prizes like cash, mentorship programme, booking and public relations. The website is a critical component to the contest but the voting aspect of it is not fully operational.
The final component of the expo is the showcase and screening, in which there will be performances and the films will be shown all across Montego Bay.
And, as the name suggests, there will be a lot of 'stirring'.
"The reason I went with Stir It Up is because we will be stirring a couple of different elements. We will be stirring film and music, stirring the south-south network (Africa, Caribbean, South Pacific, South America) with the north, stirring up amateur with professionals and stirring up the Caribbean," Sinclair said, while noting that Jamaica is key to the whole event.
Sinclair anticipates there will be at least 2,000 delegates from the ACP, more than 15,000 fans who voted online and more than 400 persons from the media at the event. From the Northern countries, there will be producers, booking agents, venue operators and media. They will be networking with the film-makers, musicians, writers, publishers and composers from the south.
With the tremendous level of interest from the international press and people from around the world, Jamaica is sure to get a boost, said Sinclair.
"The international publicity that is going to be generated by Stir It Up is going to push Jamaica further out there front and centre as a global cultural hub for the creative industries. There is no other event of this nature in the region," Sinclair said.
Stir It Up is similar to other international expos like WOMEX (World Music Expo) and MIDEM (Marché International du Disque et de l'Edition Musicale) but it is slightly different. WOMEX and MIDEM focus on music, while Stir It Up will focus on music and films. And unlike the other two, the general public will be able to participate in Stir It Up.
Not only will the expo be a benefit to music and film in Jamaica, it is expected to help the tourism industry. Tourism is also one of the reasons Sinclair decided to host the event in September as it is generally a slow month for the industry.
With the expo, he said tourism in Jamaica will get a helping hand. There will also be other spin-offs for business operators in the area such as restaurants and clubs.
"We are looking to get 20,000 foreigners coming to Jamaica. Tourism will get a big boost. Hotels will get a boost. They (visitors) will want to get out and experience the culture. It's going to be a great thing for Jamaica all around," he said.
"We are not limiting ourselves to the entertainment offerings we will be exposing our delegates too. We want to turn Montego Bay into a beehive of cultural activities for that week."
There will also be many benefits for locals in the film and music industry as they will have access to world-class record labels, management companies, venue operators, service providers and booking agencies.
"It will be a chance for us in Jamaica and the Caribbean to go face-to-face with the calibre of delegates you would find at a WOMEX and MIDEM," Sinclair told The Sunday Gleaner, while noting that Jamaica will always be the home of Stir It Up.
And although many persons are not yet aware of the expo, Sinclair said the response has already been better than he expected.
"The response has been great. I get an average of 15 to 20 emails a day about the event. The response has been positive without any launch," he said.
Already, there has been tremendous support from the Ministry of Culture for this venture. However, Sinclair says he does not plan to approach the already-stressed government for financial assistance. Instead, he said funding will come from grants, sponsorship, revenues from delegates and other smaller ancillary revenue. In addition, Sinclair said a presentation was made to the Jamaica Tourist Board last Wednesday and he hopes to get some support from it as well.
Partial net proceeds from the event will go towards the formation of the Cultural Exchange Initiative for school-aged children.