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More than Reggae Month Kingston for 2020 – Simpson - JaRIA challenges corporate Jamaica to jump on board

Published:Friday | November 22, 2019 | 12:10 AMYasmine Peru/Gleaner Writer
JaRIA President Ewan Simpson.
JaRIA President Ewan Simpson.

The year 2020 will mark one decade since the month of February has been designated for the celebration of reggae, the genre which UNESCO, the world body’s cultural and scientific agency, in 2018, added to its collection of intangible cultural heritage deemed worthy of protection and promotion. And, as the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) prepares for Reggae Month, President Ewan Simpson says that the celebration will be more far-reaching than in the past.

“We plan to commemorate year 10 in a huge way. First of all, it will be much more than Reggae Month Kingston,” the not-so-newly appointed Simpson relayed to The Gleaner. “We have not yet finalised all the discussions, but there is interest, and even excitement, from the players outside of Kingston for this move. We have to make sure that all things are in place before we can place the JaRIA stamp on any event,” he explained.

The organisation has, in the past, come in for criticism for the celebration, which rarely extends outside of the Corporate Area, and this year, in particular, Reggae Month seemed to have lacked its lustre.

“It was a little low-key in 2019,” Simpson admitted, but he would not elaborate, except to say that moving forward, there is an agenda to get corporate entities more involved in the celebration of the genre that so many persons outside of Jamaica cherish.

help needed from corporate jamaica

“Government money is likely to come late and in insufficient quantities. We are welcoming corporate Jamaica on board. The more entities we have, the better,” he pointed out, adding that Jamaica National and Sagicor have indicated their interest.

Quizzed if corporate is more excited about jumping on board a carnival bandwagon, Simpson refused to be drawn. “There are several reasons why it appears so. Carnival events are private events that are supported by people in corporate,” he said of the soca-driven fêtes, which get bigger and better each year. But Simpson feels that there is equal appetite for things Jamaican.

“There’s room for everyone. The Red Stripes and the Appletons and the Wisyncos need to come on board. I want to say to them, come and talk to us some more so that we can better partner to help our entertainment industry,” was Simpson’s challenge.

With Reggae Month known for a full diary, including Reggae Wednesdays and some JaRIA-approved events, many of which are staged at nights, the devilish issue of night noise will inevitably rear its head. In recent times, the police have mounted a campaign to ensure that promoters stick to the very letter of the law, which states that events must be shut off by midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends. This hot-button topic has seen the entertainment industry unite to host forums and discussions on how to live harmoniously in such an environment.

“The night noise conversation is ongoing and we must find a way to coexist. We have no intention of being disruptive, but Reggae Month cannot be quiet. We will be working on ways to minimise the effects of the noise and seek ways to use technology to regulate the sound,” Simpson stated.

Reggae Month, which has as the theme, ‘Come Ketch De Riddim’, will be officially launched on December 3.