Protests stall arts finals

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

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THE three-day industrial action by teachers affiliated to the Jamaica Teachers' Association is having a negative effect on the parish finals of the Festival of the Performing Arts administered by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).

A total of 29 parish finals will have to be rescheduled in light of the industrial action being taken by the educators, as schools form the lion's share of entries for the annual event. The protest began yesterday and is expected to end tomorrow evening.

In a statement issued yesterday, the JCDC advised that the parish finals scheduled for Monday, March 12 to Wednesday, March 14, 2018 had been postponed.

Andrew Brodber, JCDC's director for arts development and training, said that upon learning that the teachers would not be working for these three days his agency made a decision.

“We decided to respect that, and so decided to postpone the concurring parish finals for those dates. The affected parish finals cover all five of the performing arts subject areas: dance, drama, music, speech, and traditional folk forms.

“The rescheduling of the affected parish finals will be done primarily at the parish level for each individual parish, and will occur based on factors such as availability of venues. We will first consider whether or not that parish has additional venues available that can accommodate the rescheduled finals and, if not, then the affected final will be rescheduled for the closest possible date to the end of the parish finals schedule, which is March 28,” Brodber told the Jamaica Observer.

“It is our aim to make these rescheduling decisions as soon as possible so that any additional dates will flow right after March 28 so as not to push back the national finals, which is currently slated to begin on Monday, April 9. The rescheduling, however, will in no way affect the other JCDC competitions or planned events,” he continued.

The teachers are staying off the job in protest of a 16 per cent wage increase offer over four years by the Government and have refused to accept a one-year retroactive payment slated for this month.

The events scheduled for Monday were: speech finals in St Thomas; Trelawny's music finals; the music finals for Kingston and St Andrew; and the speech finals set for the St Gabriel's Anglican Church Hall in May Pen, Clarendon.

Today's events would have seen the speech finals in Portland and Manchester; music finals in St James; in St Elizabeth it should have been the drama presentations; traditional folk forms in Clarendon; and the dance finals at the University of Technology, Jamaica for participants in the parishes of Kingston and St Andrew.

Wednesday's schedule would have been the heaviest, where a total of 19 events were set to take place across the island.

Speech finals were set for Portland, St Mary, St Ann, Kingston and St Andrew, and Clarendon. The finals in the area of music were set to take place in Westmoreland, Hanover, St James, St Catherine, and Kingston and St Andrew. Dance finals should have taken place in Kingston and St Andrew and St Elizabeth. Drama finals were scheduled for Hanover, St James, Trelawny and Manchester. While the finals in the traditional folk forms were to have been staged in St Elizabeth, Manchester and St Mary.

The JCDC has apologised for any inconvenience caused.

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