THE EDITOR, Sir:
In response to the Letter of the Day of Friday, July 13, Music Unites Jamaica Foundation wishes to thank the author, Hugh Stultz, for calling for a vision for the arts.
Lack of vision is not solely an oversight by the present culture minister. All of us who are tirelessly active in the progressive improvement of the arts should be grateful that, because of the Jamaica 50 celebrations, the spotlight has been placed on this chronic shortcoming of vision of the cultural policymakers.
One young and intelligent public-sector employee recently expressed his disappointment very adequately: "It is a shame that there are no efforts made to harness the best, brightest and most experienced of Jamaica's talents!"
From our point of view, one of the reasons for this unfortunate neglect of progressive cultural development is that the officials in charge of both political parties are looking towards consultation within their own circle of affiliates. As my wise mother rightfully told me at the start of my career: "A practising artist never publicly shows one's political orientation." We are supposed to showcase arts for arts' sake.
As Mr Stultz pointed out, one should expect several new works commissioned for such an important celebration year, as has happened in the past. Well, the good news is that a great piece of musical theatre, the reggae opera 'Mikey', was already commissioned some years ago by the CHASE Fund.
Due to the lengthy creative process and the possible national and international potential to achieve artistic success, the decision was made to produce it as 'The Musical Legacy Project' in 2012.
This first major reggae opera, which is loosely based on the life story of Jamaican dub poet Mikey Smith, was created right here in Jamaica by Mervyn Morris, Alvin Campbell, Peter Ashbourne and team. The challenge, however, is that so far this progressive project has not been given the necessary funding and acknowledgement for a successful stage production this year.
That leaves us to wonder how many other artistic works of great cultural value are also waiting in the wings, their cultural significance and nation-building potential simply overlooked.
However, we wish to publicly thank German Ambassador Josef Beck for believing in the significance of this new musical genre, reggae opera, for Jamaica and the wider world. We sincerely hope that the sponsorship offered by the German government will inspire Jamaican donor agencies to come on board.
ROSINA C. MODER