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Story Highlights

  • State Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Damion Crawford, has described the annual event, Arts in the Park (AITP), as a vital medium for showcasing Jamaica’s diverse entertainment brand and creative industries on the world stage.
  • The event, which focuses on a different aspect of the industry each staging, creates a platform for booking agents and talent scouts to discover new, upcoming talent in Jamaica.
  • It also provides an opportunity for creative practitioners to market and promote their work internationally.

State Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Damion Crawford, has described the annual event, Arts in the Park (AITP), as a vital medium for showcasing Jamaica’s diverse entertainment brand and creative industries on the world stage.

The event, which focuses on a different aspect of the industry each staging, creates a platform for booking agents and talent scouts to discover new, upcoming talent in Jamaica.

It also provides an opportunity for creative practitioners to market and promote their work internationally.

Speaking with JIS News, Mr. Crawford pointed out that the staging of the event over the years is a means of improving the business aspect and marketability of the Jamaican entertainment product.

“We tried to find a methodology that would increase the exposure of our creative industries to foreign markets…so we sought to replicate the model used by tourism to have the intermediaries come into the island to be exposed to the product and the talent, and by extension, carry the talents in major markets overseas,” he explained.

He pointed out that the inaugural staging, which took place in February 2013 at Hope Gardens, focused on live music and provided developmental opportunities for upcoming live musicians.

Raging Fyah, Nomaddz, Di Blueprint, C-Sharp, Chronixx & Zinc Fence and Roots Underground were among the bands featured, with international music intermediaries from Sony ATV, Roc Nation, BET 106 & Park, Storm Entertainment and Warner Bros/Atlantic brought in to see the emerging local talent.

“For every AITP, there is a pre-day, which allows persons who are performing to interact with the persons we carry down…so on that scheduled interaction day, persons get advice, they are told how the market works, how to get onto the stations, how to send in CDs and because our talents evolve most times without formal training, they are unaware of some of these realities, so this puts them closer to becoming professionals,” the State Minister explained.

Mr. Crawford said that for 2014, with a focus on Literary Arts and Spoken Word, the Ministry invited Bristol’s Asif Khan of Yardstick Festival and Richard Jones who represented Tangent Books and Bristol Festival of Literature.

The invitation, he continued, led to a multiplicity of positive outcomes, including the Poet Laureate, Professor Mervyn Morris, being invited to the Bristol Poetry Institute for the annual public reading and performance.

Three emerging poets and writers were invited to a specially designed ‘Jamaica Rising’ programme through which they did interviews and speaking engagements related to the programme, and three emerging talents who were showcased at that year’s Arts in the Park, featured in events at the Bristol Festival of Literature in October 2014.

“After the spoken word, we went into music again but more gospel music and we brought down persons who could expose our gospel people to the main markets in Canada and the United States of America (USA),” the State Minister said.

As a result of the Gospel edition, emerging gospel artistes benefited from a free developmental workshop facilitated by the international intermediaries with an additional developmental seminar/boot camp scheduled for June 2015.

“Emerging artistes were also featured on radio stations in the United States and Canada and Arts in the Park – the Gospel Edition, featured in the March 2015 edition of Gospel USA Magazine.

Mr. Crawford informed that for 2015, some of the country’s top dancers will showcase their talent on one stage, at ‘Arts in the Park: the Dance Edition’, slated for Sunday, May 17 at the Hope Botanical Gardens in Kingston.

International choreographers and representatives of overseas dance companies will be on hand to assess the local talent, including Executive Director of the African American Dance Ensemble, Dr. Angeloe Burch; Director of the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, Virginie Mecene; Artistic Director, Ailey II, Troy Powell; MTV Award-winning Choreographer, Tanisha Scott; and Head of Commercial and Dance departments at BLOC New York City, Fatima Wilson.