JaRIA's new man

Observer senior reporter

Sunday, May 19, 2019

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Musician, artiste manager and attorney-at-law Ewan Simpson has been elected the new chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA).

Simpson, who is no stranger to the music industry or the association, noted that serving as chairman was never on his bucket list of position to which he aspired. However, he told the Jamaica Observer that over the years he has been approached by various persons to help in the drive to take JaRIA in a new direction, building on the gains made by its previous boards.

“I always thought that I didn't have the time... nobody ever has the time these days, but at the same time I really wanted to give of my skills and professional background in the area of intellectual property law. So, once the reminders kept coming regarding the election of officers I decided to make myself available this year.”

Simpson is pleased with the composition of his board of directors, which for him represents a powerful mix of youth and experience, freshness and those with history. This he said bodes well for a dynamic and vibrant team eager to move the association as well as the local music industry forward.

“I have ideas of course, but one of the things that it must be is that the new JaRIA must be an organisation. For me there may be a moving spirit or a guiding mind but there must be collective operations. We have people who have served on the board before and those who have never. There are also people who are serving in new capacities. So we're getting a new perspective. One of the things I want is an organisation which is very clear on its corporate structure so that it can be efficient, so that it can properly attract funding... nothing happens well if it is not properly funded.”

Simpson stressed that the importance of the reggae industry to Jamaica is too great for it not to show that a reggae industry association can be organised. He noted that the time has come for JaRIA to become that well-oiled machine and a world leader in standards in keeping with the cache that the music has on the world stage. He noted that it is his intention to work alongside his new board in taking the organisation to these world class-standards.

“JaRIA has a constitution. It has committees. But the members of the association have never quite understood what these committees mean, what these committees do because it has not always been properly articulated. The organisation does not have a home where all its records are stored or even a proper address. We have existed on the benevolence of members or other organisations that is something that needs to be changed. The way we relate to the Ministry of Culture and agencies and institutions under that ministry, the way we relate to corporate Jamaica needs to be better coordinated so that corporate bodies can fund different activities of the organisation over an extended period of time, understand what there returns will be and what the impact will be, understand how it is going to be used and there is accountability , so it sets a standard for the industry.”

The other members of the board are Don McDowell, director for Constitution, Advocacy, Lobbying, Membership (CALM); former Chair Michael “Ibo” Cooper, director of Education; and Coleen Douglas, director of Marketing and Promotions. Abishai Hoilett, Duane McDonald, Junior Lincoln and Mary Isaacs return as artiste's representatives, while Everol Wray returns as musician's representative. New directors are June Isaacs, director of finance; Saeed Thomas, youth Representative and Paul “Computer Paul” Henton as producers' representative.

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