Ashe wants its kingdom

BY SADE GARDNER
Observer writer
gardners@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, January 18, 2018

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OTAHEITI Kingdom is the vision for the performing troupe Ashe, which celebrates its silver jubilee this year. The announcement was made at the 25th anniversary launch at their Cargill Avenue home in St Andrew yesterday.

According to Executive Director Conroy Wilson and Artistic Director Michael Holgate, the dream was inspired by Disney's Magical Kingdom and an Apple Inc store.

“Disney is a magical kingdom. We're doing this on that same principle. Disney does live performances, they have movies, music, they are international, they are into musicals — that's who we are,” said Wilson, who has held his position since 2015.

“Nuh matter how expensive Apple is, the store is always full and the products are always sold out. One of the things that people have said is that Ashe is expensive and we are; you have 25 people on the stage and it's not easy — you have to pay 25 persons... We want a kind of consciousness where people are rushing down our doors to get our services, our entertainment, our edutainment, and our products,” he continued.

Ashe, founded by Paulette Bellamy and the late Joseph Robinson, will embark on this new venture by undergoing a physical expansion. Its Vibes Theatre will be renovated and reopened with the goal of making it a First-World theatre in the Caribbean. Additionally, in honour of Bellamy, the Bellamy Robinson building is currently under construction and will house a recording studio, recruitment office, management office, and projects by the 'edutainment' institute. Both buildings are expected to open in April.

The anniversary celebrations kick off on Sunday with a thanksgiving church service at the Universal Centre of Truth for Better Living in Kingston. The book launch for Your Empowerment GPA, authored by Wilson and Holgate, will be held on Monday at the University of the West Indies Regional Headquarters, which will close off the celebrations for January.

For the remaining year, celebratory activities will include the launch of a television series called Chill (based on MTV's Shuga series), a Walt Disney tour, Holgate's musical Garvey, an 'edutainment' festival, and a gala to pay homage to Ashe's contributors.

The launch would not have been complete without performances from the arts troupe who wowed in song and dance.

“We do musicals, we do performing arts but we have to go into social media, multi media and TV and get our work out there if we want to now become as our vision says: 'The creative, empowerment and transformation centre of the world',” said Wilson.

The executive director shared his most treasured memory.

“It's really just being able to ground Ashe in our own physical space; where no one can run us out of it and we own it. It has value and we can build on what our founders have done. It's also a proud moment to have someone who knew and loved Ashe from the beginning say: 'Gee, I'm surprised after 25 years, it's the same vibes, energy, excellence and professionalism are still there'.”

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