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Int’l Reggae Poster Contest will take winner to Spain

Published:Friday | November 8, 2019 | 12:27 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter
The winning poster last year, done by Vinicio Sejas from Bolivia.
The winning poster last year, done by Vinicio Sejas from Bolivia.

Last year’s top prize for the International Reggae Poster Contest took the winner to Jamaica, gifting an untravelled visual artist with a first plane ride, a first opportunity to see the sea, and a previously inconceivable visit to the home of reggae music. This year, the organisers have upped the ante, offering a trip to Rototom Sunsplash Festival in Spain. Rototom Sunsplash is one of the largest European reggae festivals to hit the continent’s summer music festival calendar, and is surely a dream destination for the impassioned reggae music fan.

“Spain is definitely not Jamaica, but I can tell you from personal experience that Rototom Sunsplash showcases the best of Jamaican culture,” co-founder of the contest, Maria Papaefstathiou, told The Gleaner.

She went to the festival three years ago for the 8th International Reggae Poster Contest exhibition, an experience she describes as one-of-a-kind. At its start in 1991, Rototom Cultural Association began as a nightclub, which for the next nine years curated a multi-genre experience with live music acts, including reggae, African popular music, rock, pop and rap, across three rooms. Then it evolved into Rototom Sunsplash, a multi-day reggae music festival experience.

On Papaefstathiou’s visit in 2016, it was seven days of reggae music with more than 120 concerts on seven stages. “You can just imagine the positive vibes from Jamaica; although you are in Spain, so far away from the birthplace of reggae,” she said.

Rewarding as a visit to Jamaica may be, Papaefstathiou reasoned why their upcoming winner will benefit from the Rototom experience. “The Rototom Sunsplash Festival is an ideal platform for sustaining the global vision of the International Reggae Poster Contest. In 2019, there were around 230,000 visitors from 76 countries. The winner will see with their own eyes just how far reggae music and, more broadly, Jamaican culture has reached.”

She continued: “The winner of the contest will enjoy Jamaican music, food, art and fashion; as well as intellectual stimulation. One of the most important features of the festival is the Reggae University, forum where artists share their knowledge with an attentive audience. Music journalists and academics also take part in the forum.”

Over the last seven years, the contest has received over 6,000 posters from 90 countries. Entries for the International Reggae Poster Contest officially opened on November 1. Papaefstathiou was happy to report that they have already received the first entry from India.

This year, artists are tasked with focusing on the messages that all genres of Jamaican popular music spread.

“We’re looking for creative visual expressions that display the energy and vibe of Jamaican culture at home and across the world. The International Reggae Poster Contest will continue to be a graphic representation of the global appeal of Jamaica, a cultural superpower,” she said.