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Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Aloun Ndombet Assamba, has stressed the importance of viewing the Jamaican cultural heritage as an investment, which has economic benefit for the country.
“In the current dispensation, we are learning to accept the fact that one can ‘eat a food’ out of the arts.but of course we need to delve more deeply into how we can embrace contemporary business principles and cutting edge technology to maximize the return on our investment,” the Minister said.
Mrs. Assamba, who was delivering the keynote address at a National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) seminar on, ‘Image Collections as Cultural Heritage’, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, today (August 22), said the traditional perspective that the arts were not a commodity could “seriously shortchange the full value of culture and all that it represents”.
She said that according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), some US$14.5 billion was generated from Reggae Music, with only US$500,000 accruing to Jamaica where the music form originated, and lamented that insufficient procurement of audiovisual relics of Jamaica’s indigenous cultural forms was contributing to this trend.
Increasingly, the Minister emphasized, the nation was enriching its wealth of cultural resources, as “at 44 years old, Jamaica has come of age in the range of its cultural offerings,” and that “coming to terms with the validity and value of our artistic and cultural outputs is no longer the issue – it is how to translate talent to a sustainable living”.
Mrs. Assamba called for greater solidarity between cultural stakeholders, who she said had a crucial part to play in the process of “bringing back the value of our own culture to benefit our people”, and the development of the economy.
She pointed out that the Government has taken the necessary steps to ensure that Jamaica could move forward in using audio-visual technology to preserve and market aspects of its culture by the adoption of the General Agreement on Trade in Services, which governed many cultural services, such as the performing arts, publishing, publications, news, communication and architectural services.
Vowing her support, the Minister said she would facilitate the procurement of audio-visual aspects of culture by strategically emphasizing the benefits to be derived, and providing direction through the key policy position of the government.
“As the custodian of Jamaica’s corporate memory, I am very pleased that the National Library of Jamaica is moving so decisively to deepen our understanding of the real and potential value of capturing images ‘Jamaicana’ in still and moving formats,” Mrs. Assamba said.
The Minister pointed out that strategically, the workshop supported several key policy positions of the government. “The National Industrial Policy identifies a hub of cultural industries as one cluster of activities in which we enjoy a global competitive advantage. This position is supported by one of the main pillars of the National Cultural Policy, which in turn dovetails into one of five key imperatives of the Master plan for Sustainable Tourism Development,” Mrs. Assamba explained.
The ‘Image Collections as Cultural Heritage’ seminar is organised by the Audio-Visual Information Network (AVIN) through the NLJ, to provide the scope for participants to learn how to manage photographed, filmed and videographed collections, as well as to acknowledge the legal issues and the application of technology to be used as cultural forms.
The seminar will last until August 24 and will involve local and international participants and presenters.
They include former Corporate Affairs Manager for the British Broadcasting Corporation, Sue Malden, who is currently the Conference Content Director for the International Federation of Television Archives (FIAT); Matthew White, Vice President of the National Geographic Television and Film, Digital Motion Group; University of the West Indies Lecturer in Television Broadcasting, Franklyn St. Juste; and a team of copyright lawyers and television producers.