JaRIA back on track

Observer senior reporter

Friday, January 26, 2018

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With the ministries of Tourism and Gender, Culture, Entertainment and Sports taking over the lion's share of the execution of activities surrounding Reggae Month, Ibo Cooper, chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), says this leaves him more time to execute the mandate of his association.

For the past nine years, JaRIA assumed the leadership role in planning and executing all the events for Reggae Month, and Cooper said as a result a number of the activities his association should be pursuing have been left behind.

“JaRIA is not a promoter. JaRIA has more business to do around the year that we have not been able to focus on because of the in-depth planning required for Reggae Month. We have issues like the employment on the North Coast to deal with, where they are employing foreigners over Jamaicans. Now we don't want the North Coast hoteliers feel that we are fighting them, but we want to analyse the situation, look at the issues and deal with it properly. JaRIA has the welfare of the musicians... an endowment fund to deal with. We have to deal with the formation of a musicians' credit union which has been on the table for the past two years. So we have a lot of things to deal with which are bigger than Reggae Month,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“The industry doesn't understand itself fully yet and that's also what I want to work on. The industry sees JaRIA as Reggae Month and Reggae Month as JaRIA. JaRIA needs the industry to understand because we are not getting much resources from the industry and that is really where my head is at this time,” Cooper added.

Cooper said he is proud of the work JaRIA has put in to build the Reggae Month brand, and so helping convince the authorities of the viability and potential of the month of events and activities during February, which he said has now borne fruit with the involvement of the government ministries.

“What we did in the nine years is to entrench in the people and Government and Opposition, is that this is big. So I am happy for that recognition. If we were trying to hug up the festival and call it JaRIA Reggae Month we would never manage. The old boys now have to step aside. We were guiding a process, we can't go on forever. The youths have to come in now and take it to another level. I think people are finally understanding the concept of Reggae Month... I see this as progress,” he said.

JaRIA will still helm its signature activities during Reggae Month such as Reggae Wednesday — the weekly live music event, the discussion series Reggae Open University and the Honour Awards, which will cap off the month-long celebrations.

Reggae Month is being staged under the theme: Peace, Love, Reggae.

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