US$6m plan for Edna Manley College
Michael Reckord, Gleaner Writer
The Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA) expects to spend about US$6 million to implement its five-year development plan.
Delivering the news at a staff development conference last Thursday, college principal Dr Nicholeen DeGrasse-Johnson said a fundamental objective of the 40-page plan is to enable the EMCVPA to offer "a lot more services contributing to the Caribbean in a larger way."
However, even as she took a broad look at the college's goals, DeGrasse-Johnson urged her audience - faculty and staff of every level - to individually take responsibility for the institution's management "You must manage your college the way you'd like to manage your home," she said.
Preceding DeGrasse-Johnson at the lectern was chairman of the EMCVPA's board of directors, Paul Issa. In his welcome address, Issa referred to the recent terrorist shootings in Paris, France, urging his audience to develop "a sense of selflessness".
"Speak your truth as you know it," he said.
The major agenda item for the day was a two-hour PowerPoint presentation by consultant Lisa Callender on the EMCVPA's Strategic Plan 2015 - 2020. She said the plan's mission statement is the same as the college's - 'To enrich the aesthetic sensibilities and promote the cultural diversity of the Caribbean through the highest quality education and training in the visual and performing arts and their allied services'.
Callender spoke of the college's national and regional importance. At the same time, she said, as interest in the creative industries grows worldwide, the college is facing a lot of competition. For example, the UK, Barbados and The Bahamas are all "serious" about the creative industries and intend to build state-of-the-art facilities. In that context, Callender suggested that the college establish good online programmes.
Callender focused intensively on analysis of the EMCVPA's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in a SWOT analysis. One strength, she said, was that the college has attracted a lot of goodwill, has highly trained artistic and technical personnel, a diverse curriculum, and distinguished alumni, many of whom remain involved with the college.
Weaknesses include the institution being very dependent on tuition fees, challenges in effective communication, and a low incentive to publish research.
The college being the only institution of its kind in the region provides opportunities, Callender said, recommending the setting up of short courses ranging in duration from a weekend to a few weeks.
"The need for part-time courses is becoming urgent," she said, adding that continuing education must be developed and modern studios built.
Some Pillars for Strategic Development identified were:
Human capacity and talent development
Infrastructure and equipment
Shareholder engagement, partnerships and scholarships
Creation of a centre for excellence in continuing education for cultural and creative industries
Building responsiveness, accountability and quality communication.
Among those contributing to the discussion were heads of the institution's schools. They included Miriam Smith, acting director of the School of the Visual Arts; Roger Williams, director of the School of Music; Michael Sean Harris, assistant director of the School of Music; Kerry-Ann Henry, director of the School of Dance; and Pierre LeMaire, assistant director of the School of Drama.