PJ urges UWI to establish creative arts faculty
Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson is urging The University of the West Indies (The UWI) to establish a new faculty aimed at empowering more students to take advantage of what he described as Jamaica’s creative renaissance.
Patterson made the suggestion last Thursday as The UWI accepted 261 pieces of art donated by the estate of Michael Campbell, the founder of Island Car Rentals, who passed last September.
Campbell, who was also a major player in Jamaica’s tourism industry, had developed a reputation as an art collector, and the donation valued at US$2.3 million spanned the work of 67 Jamaican artists.
“The time has come for a faculty of the creative arts with appropriate linkages to the Faculty of Humanities. I urge the Mona campus, the first and at one time the only campus, to lead the way and ensure that this donation will highlight the enormous potential of the creative economy. Jamaica has one outstanding global acclaim for its exquisite cultural innovation and we cannot squander this legacy,” Patterson said during his keynote speech at the handover ceremony held at the university’s Faculty of Medical Sciences’ Teaching and Research Complex.
Patterson recognised the significance of Campbell’s contributions to the creative industry, labelling him a patron of the arts. He also noted the substantial role of art in the nation’s progress and highlighted the potential of the donated works to spark a creative renaissance at the university.
“The philanthropy of Michael Campbell represents both a continuance of a deeply grounded tradition and foundation of gift giving to this university as well as an illuminating moment of possibility for this regional institution. This evening, works of craftsmanship will be accepted and unveiled to inspire practitioners, students, experts and visitors of our rich cultural heritage,” he said.
“It represents a way to give back and to take advantage of new areas of creative industries that are more modern and meaningful in the lives of our university students.”
Describing The UWI as the most suitable recipient of Campbell’s donation, Patterson said it was a great opportunity to continue expanding the diversification of education offered at the university.
“We have yet another set of building blocks as the university goes forward to ensure that the education offered on this campus is visionary, global and emphatic… It is time once again that this philanthropic gesture holds to ground the creative industries into the foundation of learning and discipline held by this regional university,” he said.
Highlighting the role of art to Jamaica’s economic development, Patterson said that the creative industry accounts for 6.1 per cent of the global gross domestic product, contributing US$2.2 billion to the country’s economy, and accounting for 3.3 per cent of both direct and indirect employment.
He added that the creative economy earned more than the services in finance, business, insurance and construction industries combined.
Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams, who was in awe of the pieces, highlighted with excitement the importance of the work of philanthropists, noting that more are deserving of acknowledgement.
“…Looking at these amazing works I can’t help to think about how important it is to continue art in our schools and to allow every child to experience art in a meaningful way,” Williams said.
She also praised Campbell’s work and its contribution to the education sector.
“In recent years, the Campbell art collection has also become a focal point for art education and community engagement through exhibitions, workshops, and outreach programmes, the collection has helped to nurture the next generation of Jamaican artists and cultivate a greater appreciation for the arts within the local community,” she said.
Pro vice-chancellor and principal of The UWI, Mona campus Professor Densil Williams stated that the donation can inspire visitors and students to “reflect on their inner soul and move beyond mere existence to a life of purpose, curiosity and a greater level of sensibility towards humanness, especially during this time of global turbulence and a collapsing of social order among our youths today”.