KINGSTON — Some 20 young people from 11 inner city communities in Kingston, Clarendon, and St. Catherine are to benefit from scholarships to engage in programmes in the visual and performing arts at the University of Technology (UTech).
The $1,070,000 Music and Entertainment Outreach Programme, which will begin next month, is a joint initiative of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and UTech, under the World Bank-funded Inner City Basic Services Project (ICBSP). JSIF is providing $950,000 of the amount, with the remainder representing community contribution of $120,000 in cash and kind.
Under the programme, which was signed off on July 13, 2011 at JSIF's New Kingston offices, the beneficiaries, 13 to 24 years old, will take dance, choir, music, drama, instrumental, steel pan drumming and visual arts classes at UTech's Centre for the Arts, for one year.
Materials and equipment required for extracurricular activities will also be provided.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Senator Warren Newby, said he was pleased with the initiative, which seeks to engage at-risk youth through the arts.
“The music, the theatre, have provided this mental space that is required as an outlet, and we have used it as a problem-solving tool; we have used it as a bridge-building tool between communities and certainly, we want to salute the fact that this latest effort is building on those foundations,” he said.
Managing Director for JSIF, Scarlett Gillings, said the organisation sees the arts as an avenue to create wealth for persons in the inner-city, many of whom are very talented.
“We are talented in the arts – singing dancing, and I would think that it is for us a poverty programme, to zero in there, to see how can we assist persons in the inner-city to be able to realise their full potential in those areas,” she said.
Director for UTech's Centre for the Arts, Pat Ramsay, said through the outreach programme, the youngsters will be able to channel their artistic skills in a positive way.
She thanked JSIF for the “major collaboration and joining in our vision to deal with the community and young people and see how we can help this nation to be a better place to live."
Programme participants will not only benefit from the arts, but life skills such as communication, teamwork, leadership and discipline will also be imparted. Participants will then learn how to transfer these skills to their lives to excel personally and professionally.
The programme is part of the alternative livelihood sub-component of the ICBSP, which finances skills training and development in a wide range of areas including the arts.
The ICBSP, which commenced in 2006 as part of the national poverty reduction agenda of the Government, integrates physical infrastructure development with social development interventions in 12 inner-city communities across the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, Clarendon, St. James and St. Catherine.
By ALECIA SMITH, JIS Reporter