JIS News

The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) is seeking to capitalise on the successful staging of activities during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the country’s Independence.

According to JCDC Director of Field Services, Marjorie Leyden-Vernon, the Commission will be maintaining the Jamaica 50 parish committees which had been formed to assist in the design and implementation of the parish celebrations.

"We are going to try our best to maintain the strong level of support from our committees, so that we can have far more people involved in making decisions as to what celebrations we do per parish," she tells JIS News, noting that inputs from citizens were essential for the successful staging of events.

Additionally, she says the organisation will be working closely with communities in an effort to keep the momentum and patriotism that were displayed by Jamaicans during the Independence celebrations.  

"This is a special year, the 50th Jubilee, and everybody is putting out a special effort, so we would love to keep that momentum going into next year and the next 50 years, where Jamaicans really understand 'Emancipendence' and give their full support," she says.

Efforts will also be made to maintain the high level of enthusiasm and support shown by sponsors.

"We will continue speaking with sponsors. We are looking to set up a review with our sponsors for them to analyse and assess  how we can move forward and where they were happy, so that we can get bigger and better support as we go forward," Mrs. Leyden-Vernon  adds.

The Director informs JIS News that the organisation has started reviewing activities that were undertaken since January. Internal reviews will be done over the next few months with senior management staff and Regional officers, she notes.

"We have done an internal review with our senior management and representatives from the Board and we will be moving out into the parishes for our Regional reviews," the Director says.

Mrs. Leyden-Vernon is extending commendations to persons who participated in planning the parish events. "In my estimation, the JCDC parishes had a 90 per cent success rate with the series of activities for the Independence celebrations," she adds.

She points out that the events would not have been successful without the help from volunteers and community members.

"We would also love to thank some of our Members of Parliament. They came out and gave full support with the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), so we were able to ensure that many street dances were held in the communities," the Director  tells JIS News.

"We started from as early as July with the street dances across the parishes and I can tell you we had great support. The performers felt great just being on the stage, because they had such huge crowds to perform to, and we really have to give thanks," she says,  adding that over 80 street dances were held across the parishes.

Mrs. Leyden-Vernon explains that financial support was also needed for the events held on August 5 and 6, such as the setting up of large outdoor screens in townsquares across Jamaica to deliver live broadcast of Jamaican athletes in action at the London Olympics, the Grand Gala at the National Stadium and also videos of golden memories of Jamaica over the past years.  This was co-ordinated by the Ministry of Youth and Culture, through the Jamaica 50 Secretariat.

"Everything was bigger and grander and a few parishes were able to have fireworks. I know Montego Bay had fireworks, so that would have been exceptional for Independence Day," she says.

Mrs. Leyden-Vernon describes the events on August 5 and 6 as a "great success," while noting that there was record attendance from citizens across Jamaica, especially from the parishes of St. Mary, Portland and St. Ann.

"St. Mary had over 10,000 persons in the town square for the Gala in the evening. In Clarendon, over 12,000 persons were recorded as being in May Pen Square," she says.

One major setback, she notes, was the inclement weather on Sunday, August 5, which had disturbed the Jubilee Village at Independence Park and other ceremonies that were held in the parish capitals.  

"That was the only incident we had that put a little damper on activities and all it did was to cut short  the events that we had planned," the Director points out.

While not revealing the exact amount spent on the parish celebrations, Mrs. Leyden-Vernon says funds were taken from the $300 million private and public funds targeted for the festivities. Financial support also came from Members of Parliament and the parish councils, she adds.

Meanwhile, the Director says the parish offices are now busy with activities to commemorate the life and work of one of Jamaica's cultural icons, the Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley, fondly known as 'Miss Lou.' The celebrations, which started on September 13, will continue to September 29. Following the celebrations, the JCDC will begin planning activities for Heritage Week 2012, from October 7-15.

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