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  • It is important to stage these activities within a fiscally responsible framework
  • The budget for Independence activities this year is $100 million
  • The activities, to be held under the theme: ‘Celebrating Jamaica: Triumphant, Proud and Free’

Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, on July 22, launched Emancipation and Independence celebrations for 2013, noting that it is important to stage these activities within a fiscally responsible framework.

She said that even during periods of austerity, these activities are vital because of the role of culture in empowering the spirit of the nation during these times. The budget for Independence activities this year is $100 million.

“While we are still going through periods of economic challenges, we are very clear that as a country… our people and our youth in particular, must have cultural outlets for expression, contemplation, relaxation and celebration,” the Minister said, at the press launch, which was held at the Office of the Prime Minister.

“We felt that it was very important that while we could not celebrate in the way and magnitude that we did last year, we would still be celebrating and using the opportunity to reflect on what we have done over the past 50 years,” she added.

The activities, to be held under the theme: ‘Celebrating Jamaica: Triumphant, Proud and Free’, formally close out ‘Jamaica 50’ celebrations.

Miss Hanna outlined that the objectives of the celebrations are to: commemorate the country’s 51st year of political independence, and give Jamaicans an opportunity to collect keepsakes from ‘Jamaica 50’; offer presentations in dance, music, theatre and visual arts; and to recognize national heroes, Jamaican icons, and institutions.

“We want it to be youth relevant, and we want it to be exciting in design, execution and style, referencing some of our more modern and contemporary theatre art forms…the use of technology, animation, television, audio-visual displays, lighting, scripting and new media. So, we are taking the opportunity to introduce some new things to the grand gala this year,” she explained.

The Minister said that to this end, the Grand Gala Committee this year comprises skilled persons in specialist areas, such as lighting.

Miss Hanna said that this year’s celebrations will also offer rich, wholesome family-oriented entertainment, with periods of reflection and discussion.

The celebrations will run from July 31 to August 6, with July 31-August 1 observing the Emancipation activities.

The Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in Kingston, will be the venue for all activities from August 1-5, which will be transformed into a “village,” opening each day at noon, with booths and stalls displaying craft, art, and other memorabilia.

The Ministry will partner with the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), for the major Emancipation celebration. The JNHT will be hosting the Emancipation Jubilee at Seville, in St. Ann, to kick start this segment of the celebrations.

Miss Hanna mentioned the recent opening of the Seville Museum, noting that the Ministry had been steadfast in its efforts to open three museums before Independence celebrations.  “We felt it was important that our people understood their identity, understood where they were coming from, and have avenues for recreation and to take their children,” she said.

A museum has also been opened in Roxborough, Manchester, the birthplace of National Hero, the Rt. Excellent Norman Manley; and a National Museum, in Kingston.

Vigils will be held across parishes on July 31, followed by Mello Go Roun’ at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre on August 1; while August 2 will feature some of the most popular festival songs.

The public is invited to select the top 20 Festival songs of the period, which in their opinion best depict the country’s independence journey, by texting to: 444 2407, or online at www.jcdc.gov.jm. The top 20 songs will be performed on grand gala night by various artistes, and an overall winner announced.

Meanwhile, the National Festival Queen Show will be held on August 3, followed on August 4, by the National Independence Thanksgiving Service at Bethel Baptist Church, beginning at 10:15 a.m., and the National Gospel Song Showcase, starting at 7:00 p.m.

The World Reggae Dance competition will be staged on August 5, featuring contestants from other countries, such as Japan, Guadeloupe and Finland.

The Minister noted that over the five days, there will be a “reasoning” session at 3:00 p.m. on a number of topics, such as skin bleaching; music and youth; and politics.

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