National cultural policy to be reviewed

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter

Thursday, July 12, 2012    

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A consultant is to be employed by the Ministry of Youth and Culture to work with the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) and related agencies in reviewing the nine-year-old national cultural policy.

Acting Executive Director of the JCDC Delroy Gordon told this week's Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange that Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna was "very strong" on the issue of a cultural policy to position the cultural and creative industries for economic growth.

The need for a national cultural policy that recognised the value of Jamaica's cultural industries and their capacity to provide an alternative to failing traditional industries was highlighted in 1999, after it was reported that Jamaica was only able to recover US$.5 billion of what was then assessed to be a global reggae music industry, valued at US$14.5 billion.

One policy decision was to address the lack of linkages and co-ordination between various agencies involved with cultural development, including the JCDC, the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) and the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ), and was extended to include business links like the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo). However, since the policy was introduced in 2003, with the aim of making Jamaica a "cultural superstate", not much progress has been made in that direction, triggering complaints of a lack of achievement and, in some instances, deterioration in the sector primarily linked to a lack of government funding to address issues.

But, according to Gordon, Hanna is "very passionate" about the issue, "and as we speak there is a review of the cultural policy taking place".

"A consultant is going to work on that and it is being done (in conjunction) with similar government agencies," he added.

In her sectoral speech in the House of Representatives, last week, Hanna enunciated a strategic approach, including the creation of a cultural and creative industries commission to position the sector to generate profit.

The JCDC was created in 1980 to absorb the former Festival Commission and expand its role beyond promoting the annual Independence Festival to include: the promotion of cultural programmes and activities in communities, and develop local talent by means of training, workshops, competitions, exhibitions, pageants, parades, displays and other activities as the Commission may from time to time determine.

In 2010, former minister of youth, sports and culture, Olivia "Babsy" Grange, re-branded the commission with the responsibility for all national celebratory and commemorative events, including floral and civic ceremonies, National Heritage Week events, the Bob Marley Symposia and the development of the performing arts.





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