JIS News

The benefits that could accrue to communities adjacent to Sabina Park are tremendous, with the venue slated to host some preliminary matches in the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007.
In light of this, the Social Development Commission (SDC), through the Lift-up Jamaica Programme, is partnering with the Greater Allman Town Benevolent Society to create a Culture Plaza at a cost of some $16.5 million.
Wilfred Talbert, Field Officer at the SDC tells JIS News that the Allman Town, Campbell Town, Kingston Gardens and Woodford Park communities are to be on show as ‘Theme Communities’ for the duration of the event and beyond.
Basically, the culture plaza will comprise 10 by 10 feet shopping tents supported by bamboo barriers along the sidewalk in a prescribed location near Sabina Park.
“The SDC in its mandate to prepare communities to take advantage of the event has identified ‘theme communities’ and the reason why we call them ‘theme communities’ is because they offer something that has been going on traditionally, not just for World Cup but for the longest while,” says Mr. Talbert.
He explains that Tivoli Gardens, with its Wednesday night music session, ‘Passa Passa’, Trench Town and its ties to music great, Bob Marley, and Rae Town and the old hits, all offer an authenticity to the Jamaican experience that could be duly exploited as tourism products.
“Allman Town, a community that has Marcus Garvey as its first Parish Councillor, is also very critical because of its proximity to Sabina Park and the opportunity which that proximity brings to the community. For example, there will be a ‘park and walk’ site, where persons will be shuttled down the Heroes Park, Simon Bolivar area and they will disembark and walk through that district of Allman Town, that is called Kingston Gardens,” Mr. Talbert notes.
He says that strategically, National Heroes Circle, as an official parking area, will inevitably bring more than 8,000 to 10,000 persons in the vicinity of the proposed Culture Plaza on any given match day.
“We have to bear in mind that these businesses don’t normally have that amount of people traffic. We are talking about international media taking over the area; we are looking at a radio/TV audience of over 3 billion people. That is advertisement that the average business person cannot afford, so nobody stands to lose and as far as the community stands, it is a win-win situation,” he tells JIS News.
“The programme of the Culture Plaza is not just for match days but off-match days as well. With close to 17,000 visitors coming in, we have to consider their activities when there is not a match on. We are setting up a programme where we will pick them (the visitors) up and entertain them,” he says.
Meanwhile, Executive Co-ordinator for the Culture Plaza, Lawman Lynch, explains to JIS News that the Jamaica Culture Plaza will be “an outdoor festive area”, featuring approximately 200 booths showcasing Jamaican cuisine and culture, while providing first class cultural entertainment daily.
The mission of the facility is to facilitate the social and economical development of community personnel and stakeholders, hence contributing significantly to the Jamaican economy during and after Cricket World Cup 2007.
“Persons within the community and outside of the community will be given the opportunity to sell their wares. Craft items, food, t-shirts, entertainment, tour packages, you name it, will be available at the Culture Plaza,” Mr. Lynch points out.
He says he wants to ensure that “Jamaica Culture Plaza becomes the entertainment hub, not only of Jamaica, but of the Caribbean, because Jamaica will be hosting a large number of visitors.
Geographically, it makes sense that the Kingston leg of CWC 2007 benefits to the fullest”. Mr. Lynch tells JIS News that the greater vision is to bring back Kingston as a tourism destination and “we are happy for the opportunity of the World Cup”.
“It is not just Allman Town; the SDC has been sensitizing communities about the ways in which they can benefit from the event. We hope that we can showcase a side of Jamaica that people will go and talk about and in turn come again with their friends,” he says.
He projects that the Culture Plaza could be very lucrative. “With the proper machinery in place, it has the potential to gross over $54 million profit, presuming that it attracts a mere 20 per cent of the tournament visitors,” the Co-ordinator says.
For her part, Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Aloun Assamba, has been promoting Kingston as a prime resort and business tourism area, with vibrant nightlife, culture and shopping, which is on par with Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.
“Too many times, we forget that Kingston is in fact one of the resort areas of Jamaica and we have everything that a visitor could want when they go to a country, right here in Kingston,” she said on World Tourism Day (September 27).
Detailing some of the attractions of Kingston and its environs, Mrs. Assamba said, “if you want beach, we have it. There is nothing in the world as nice as getting up on a Saturday morning and going out to Hellshire beach and picking your own fish, sitting and enjoying the sea breeze, going for a swim if you so desire and wait while your fish is cooked”.
She noted further that shopping areas were located near to the hotels and the increased presence of police personnel in New Kingston would be very helpful in averting any threat to visitors.
In the meantime, Community Development Officer with the SDC, Pasha Allen says businesses in the immediate area are being vetted to partner and benefit from the event through the culture plaza.
“We are presently having socialization training. This does not only prepare community members for getting the physical infrastructure ready, but also to be ambassadors in the community.
In the budget for the culture plaza, we have Marshalls who will be on the ground 24 hours per day to lead security. We are trying to make contact with private security to monitor the area,” she tells JIS News.
She explains that despite the restriction of vehicular traffic, the SDC is working with the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) to balance the logistics of the event with plans to assist businesses in the community as well as residents to improve their business prospectus.
Miss Allen says the SDC has everything, tents, ambulance, security and sanitary services, covered in the planning of the Culture Plaza.
“We are negotiating with the Ministry of Labour to get a lease for premises to set up a Secretariat in the next couple of weeks,” she says, emphasizing that efforts are being made to strike a balance between community members and Government officials.
She explains that there will hardly be competition for benefits derived from the Plaza, as “the Greater Allman Town Benevolent Society owns the project”.
“They have a Task Force with which the SDC is working, but we also have consultants from the SDC,” she says.

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