This is a blessed occasion for the Creative Production and Training Centre, CPTC.
It brings to mind a wonderful phrase — “beauty for ashes” found in the King James version of the Bible.
In Isaiah 61, we see a promise made by God to the children of Israel.
The promise was to give them, “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning” and “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”
Today, after the ashes, mourning and heaviness of that April 2005 fire, we have come to the time for beauty, joy and praise.
We have come to celebrate the re-opening of the former ‘Studio S’, fittingly re-christened the Wycliffe Bennett studio.
It is a super modern facility named in honour of a super talented Jamaican.
What a joy it is for me to pay tribute to my friend, Wycliffe, on this special day!
The quality of his contribution to the arts, entertainment, theatre and media, indeed, the entire landscape of Jamaican and Caribbean culture is truly outstanding.
Whether it was at JBC, the Ward Theatre, CARIFESTA or his time here at CPTC, Wycliffe has made an indelible mark on the national landscape.
I would like to recognize and salute the other and better-looking half of the Bennett team, Dr. Hazel Bennett – author, educator and pioneering librarian, herself a person of great talent.
This function is a powerful reminder that even in the worst circumstances, if we look hard enough, or wait long enough, we will see the blessings.
In every crisis, there is an opportunity for growth.
On that Tuesday morning almost two years ago, as the CPTC family contemplated the devastation, it must have been difficult to see the positive side. Fortunately, the team rallied quickly, supported by the Rev. Marjorie Lewis.
Everyone was determined to see the CPTC studio rise from the ashes, stronger and better than before.
I want to applaud the CPTC team – Board, management and staff – for their endurance and contribution to the process of recovery and rebuilding.
Of course, special funding was required and the Cabinet provided a grant of 28 Million Dollars to assist with the repairs to the damaged building, while 43 Million Dollars from the insurance proceeds went to replacing the equipment.
Now, CPTC boasts the largest studio in Jamaica and perhaps, in the English speaking Caribbean, with the most modern state of the art production systems and equipment.
Ladies and gentlemen:
With the memories of that spectacular opening ceremony for Cricket World Cup still glowing, I join the CPTC family in reinforcing the indispensable role of technology in capturing and bringing to life our incredible creativity and culture.
There is no way that we can live up to our potential to be world class in our artistic presentations, without having and mastering the technology that will enhance our efforts.
We are good and we have been very good, even with limited facilities.
But, let not the good stand in the way of the better, and let not the better stand in the way of the best.
This is the third millennium and technology must go hand in hand with talent if we want to be successful in the creative industries on a global scale.
I am happy to be able to say that CPTC, established in 1984, is a leading institution in making Jamaica ready for the world.
Over the years, CPTC has certainly spread its wings. It has grown, developed and matured as an institution designed to “celebrate the rich Caribbean cultural heritage globally and to enhance the creative skills of Jamaicans.”
In CPTC, we have a very valuable asset — a centre for the training of skilled personnel and the development of creative products as well as the Media Technology Institute (MTI) and Creative Television (CTV).
Cable offerings have been enriched by CTV programming dedicated to raising the cultural awareness among Jamaicans.
The cultural videos produced are being well received, especially among Jamaicans living abroad.
One of the areas of CPTC that makes me very happy is its collection of programmes, footage and print material.
The CPTC archive covers the arts, history, social and developmental issues, nature and the environment, Jamaican folklore and various aspects of national and Caribbean culture.
This is an important and valuable resource which we must treasure.
As a nation, we must pay serious attention to preserving every aspect of our heritage.
Our written and audio-visual material is priceless.
I am distressed by the loss, through neglect, short sightedness, expediency or deliberate destruction of irreplaceable audio visual material relating to significant people and moments in our history.
Programmes like those done by the Hon. Louise Bennett Coverley and Charles Hyatt are just examples of lost material.
Thanks to the efforts of the CPTC, work is being done in rescuing, recovering and re-presenting “ring ding”!
We, as a people steeped in the oral tradition, must pay special attention to protecting and preserving our documented material.
In saying this, I know I have the full support of both Mr. and Dr. Bennett, both of whom understand the importance of recording for posterity.
In the case of Dr. Bennett, she co-authored with the late Phillip Sherlock, that towering historical work, the Story of the Jamaican People.
Mr. Bennett himself is capturing another aspect of some of this history in his books on broadcasting and the Jamaican theatre.
CPTC and other repositories have a special responsibility, which must be discharged even when challenged by economic constraints.
A true sense of history, pride in our heritage along with vision, planning and the proper ordering of priorities will help us to avoid the mistakes of the past.
This occasion heralds a new stage in CPTC’s life.
I encourage members of the CPTC team, to see the Wycliffe Bennett studio, born out of fire, as symbolizing a renewal and rededication of your own commitment to serve Jamaica and ultimately, the world.
We all know that technology and creativity are important, but in the end, it is the commitment that makes the difference.
It is what drives you and what motivates you that will strengthen you and inspire you to overcome the obstacles.
Our culture is both rich and unique.
In tourism, we speak of the ‘Jamaican mystique.’
It cannot be fully captured in words. Bob Marley came close when he sang of “a natural mystic”.
Whatever we call it, this culture is ours. It is irresistible and it is a priceless legacy.
There is good reason to believe that our cultural products can bring us true prosperity.
This prosperity starts with the development of national self-confidence.
It begins with a deep respect and admiration for who we are and what we do.
We need to find the treasures of wisdom, strength and inspiration in our journey.
We need to encourage ourselves along the way by tracking our progress, seeing our own images and hearing our own songs.
Importantly, at this time, we must find the stories, the pictures, the music, the dance, the art, the expressions, the spiritual fortitude that will help us stem the tide of violence.
We are all being called to search until we find in ourselves that which can move us deeply as a people, to return to love and peace and to use our energies to build and not to destroy. It is obvious that we have what it takes to build a truly great country.
I believe that is our destiny.
We were born to inspire the world by our ingenuity; our resourcefulness;our inventiveness in every field; our hospitality; our artistic abilities, and our creative output.
The task now is to delve deeply into the reservoirs of our culture.
Discover; protect; preserve; maintain; develop; enhance; package; expose; and share.
Let us break new ground.
Let us find ingenious ways to leap over the resource gaps. Let us create new forms.
To you, the CPTC family, I say today, this is your torch.
Take it and let your light be seen not only in Jamaica and the Caribbean but across the globe.
You are creative.
You have the power of communications at your finger tips.
You have the experience. You have excellent facilities.
You have already started where you are with what you have.
The output is already pleasing.
I encourage you now to broaden your vision. “uplevel” your dreams. Dig deeper. Go wider. Reach higher.
Let the creative imagination of Wycliffe Bennett, after whom your showpiece television studio is named, inspire you to shine your light even brighter in Jamaica and the world.
You came out of the furnace. You are now a fine diamond. You have the power. Go light up the world.
I thank you! And god bless you!
This is a blessed occasion for the Creative Production and Training Centre, CPTC.