Reggae Month gets boostWednesday, January 24, 2018
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
THE annual month-long celebration of all things reggae has got a shot in the arm.
Celebrated in February, Reggae Month received a $15-million injection from its major sponsor — the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) — to underwrite the costs to stage the events.
The announcement was made at Reggae Month's launch held at Ribbz Ultra Lounge in St Andrew on Monday evening.
TEF Executive Director Dr Carey Wallace, in making the announcement, said that there is an undeniable synergy between reggae and the country's tourism product, therefore, it was really a no-brainer.
“Reggae is louder than any beach, waterfall or river. It is what most people come to Jamaica for, so from an international standpoint, it ranks tops in terms of an attraction,” he said.
Meanwhile, this year's events will be managed by a steering committee out of the ministries of tourism and culture, gender affairs, entertainment, and sports. The co-chairs of this committee are Kamal Bankay, Lenford Salmon, and Howard McIntosh. This is a significant change from previous years when the event was the sole responsibility of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA).
Chairman of JaRIA, Ibo Cooper responded to comments that his association was being sidelined.
“We organised the events for nine years and brought it to this level. I am happy that these guys are now seeing the vision and can take it where we had always envisioned. The truth is funding was always an issue, and these guys are bringing in the funding from the same private and public sector partners we tried to attract.
“I don't care who wants to think persons are now tapping into Reggae Month for personal gain... From where I sit, it is reggae which stands to benefit in the long run,” Cooper told the Jamaica Observer.
JaRIA will still have responsibility for organising some of the signature events during Reggae Month, including the weekly concert series — Reggae Wednesdays, the Dennis Brown celebration, the Open University discussion series, the Bob Marley Birthday Celebrations, and the JaRIA Honour Awards.