THE Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) will be spending $423.5 million this year on cultural programmes, including the Jamaica 50 celebrations.
Acting executive director of the JCDC Delroy Gordon told yesterday's Observer Monday Exchange at the newspaper's headquarters in Kingston that the Commission will be spending $300 million of the $688.5 million
The JCDC will be spending an additional $50 million to assist in meeting expenses associated with the annual Independence celebrations this year; $62.5 million for the development of the regular cultural programmes; and $7 million on the promotion of these programmes. Four million dollars have already been spent on Labour Day activities in May.
These expenditures, added to the $131-million the Commission has to spend on housekeeping expenses like salaries, utilities, goods and services, have boosted the JCDC's budget for 2012/13 to $554 million, which should be the largest budget the commission has ever handled. Last year, the Government spent a total of $157 million on the JCDC, although the $28 million budgeted for capital expenditure did not include private sector donations.
But acting chairman of the JCDC Fae Ellington insists that the Commission is having "big challenges" getting funding from private sponsors, apart from some dependable ones like GraceKennedy.
"If we were awash with money, oh man, it would make life so much easier," she responded to a question about funding.
According to Gordon, "there are always challenges when it comes to obtaining money (from private sponsors), because resources are always scarce and demands limitless". So he welcomed Government's decision to pump $300 million of its Jamaica 50 budget into the Festival activities.
"The JCDC has benefited from this being the agency responsible for the planning and implementation of most of the national celebratory events," he explained.
Asked whether the Government's injection has made the JCDC less inclined to seek private donations this year, which have been a major factor in its festival programme in the past, Gordon admitted that this year the JCDC has not gone into the field soliciting sponsorship.
"We allowed the Jamaica 50 Secretariat, which is the overarching body responsible to solicit the sponsorship, so the funding that we benefit from this year is a combination of (Government) subvention, as well as sponsorship from some of the major sponsors," he stated.
Minister of youth and culture Lisa Hanna told the House of Representatives last Tuesday that the Government's $688.5-million Jamaica 50 budget included $366.5 million from the Consolidated Fund and $322 million from private sector and public bodies.
She paid tribute to the private sector companies and public bodies which, she said, at very short notice stepped forward, even though their 2012 budgets were already cast. "They have demonstrated true commitment to partnership," Hanna said.