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Use art to document Jamaica's culture, teacher urges

Published:Saturday | January 5, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Philip Clarke, theatre practitioner and lecturer at the Montego Bay Community College.
Tamika Williams, co-owner of Ahhh … Ras Natango Garden and Gallery and arts teacher.

Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

Art teacher Tamika Williams is calling for the use of the arts to document Jamaica's culture, which in turn can help the youth develop an appreciation of preserving our cultural legacy and enhance their creativity.

The absence of cultural awareness in the country has raised concerns for stakeholders who believe that more needs to be done to change this trend.

Williams, who is also the co-owner of the Ahhh … Ras Natango Garden and Gallery, an ecotourism property, outlined that history has proven that visual arts have been used to document the history of a number of countries, but Jamaica is lagging behind in this regard.

"There is not enough art exhibitions about our culture," she argued. "Besides the creativity and the potential business opportunities person benefit from, in any civilised culture, a huge focus is placed on visual arts and it being used to tell the history of a nation." she noted.


Ahhh … Ras Natango Gallery adopted the Buckingham Primary School in Camrose, St James, and initiated an art programme as their way of making a difference through art in the lives of young students.

"Jamaica has a vibrant culture, but we are allowing the North American culture to slowly eat away ours. More visual arts must be taught in our schools and practised in our communities," Williams said.

Philip Clarke, theatre practitioner and lecturer at the Montego Bay Community College, is of the view that Jamaica Cultural Development Commission needs to create a greater public awareness on what it does.

"Great enthusiasm is shown at the primary and high-school levels, but once the students leave high school, it is almost as if they have lost interest in the performing arts and other cultural activities. If there are more outlets for them to explore after that stage, then the interest can be sustained," Clarke stated.

He further suggested that the cultural body needs to put on some more productions or align itself with other theatrical productions, market them through the schools and communities to create that structure of continuation which, in effect, could increase the appreciation of theatre.

"Communities need to support such productions as it helps to preserve our cultural legacy. In addition, pairing digital media with live productions has to be a part of how we move forward because young people communicate digitally," Clarke highlighted.