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More than 200 projects, events planned for Jamaica 50

BY NADINE WILSON Observer staff reporter wilsonn@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, July 05, 2012    

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MORE than 200 local and international projects and events have already been endorsed by the Jamaica 50 Secretariat, as they finalise plans to officially commemorate the nation's Independence in August and celebrate the anticipated success of the country's athletes in London in the coming weeks.

Project director for the secretariat, Robert Bryan, said that while some of the projects will be financed through their allotted $688-million budget, most will be privately funded. The Jamaica 50 celebration will be used as a platform to rebrand Jamaica globally as we reflect on the achievements of the country. This will be done under the theme 'Jamaica 50: A nation on a mission'.

At the same time, Bryan who was speaking at a Jamaica 50th Secretariat press briefing at JAMPRO's training room in Kingston yesterday, said that most of the interest in the celebrations so far has been from the persons in the Diaspora.

"The celebrations as we see it is not just one that is intended to be local, because the popular saying is that there are as many Jamaicans living outside of Jamaica as there are living in Jamaica," said Bryan.

The full schedule of events to kick-start the celebrations will start rolling out from as early as this weekend. The events include the Jamaica Festival Song and the Gospel Song Competition finals, which will both take place at the National Arena on Saturday, as well as the Annual Visual Arts Exhibition which will be held at the National Gallery of Jamaica in downtown Kingston on Sunday.

One of the major events to commemorate the Jamaica 50 celebration will be a golden jubilee, which is scheduled for August 1 to 6. The headquarters of this event will be at Independence Park, while exhibitions to showcase Jamaica over the 50 years will be at the National Arena.

Executive director of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission Delroy Gordon said that while all of the national events will be open to the public for free, patrons to these events will have to secure tickets to gain access to the various venues.

"For this significant year we have pulled out all the stops and we are going to be ensuring the celebrations this year are of the highest calibre. We are making sure that our celebrations this year caters to every member of the family...," he said.

An effort is also being made to try and attract foreign investors during the celebrations.

President of JAMPRO Sancia Templer said that while there has been a lot of interest in Jamaica over the years, most has been focused on the island being a place to come and relax. We see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to get that message across that the place you have always wanted to visit is the place to do business," she said.

Bryan, in the meantime, explained that the programme has also been structured with the anticipated success of Jamaica's athletes at the Olympics in London in mind.

"The schedule of the Olympics allows us the possibility to leverage on that platform and will therefore while we are undoubtedly going to be the stars of the Olympics we can utilise that platform to position globally," said Bryan.

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