Latoya West-Blackwood is a hard-working Jamaican woman with a special energy. She pays attention to everything. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with her on a few projects. Now, as Chairperson of the Book Industry Association of Jamaica, she has been invited to visit the beautiful city of Edinburgh, Scotland in August. I am so pleased for her and know that she (and thus Jamaica) will benefit enormously. Thanks also to the British Council, which is doing some great work in supporting the creative economy in Jamaica and across the Caribbean. Below is their press release.
BIAJ Chairperson, Latoya West-Blackwood, selected to participate in prestigious Edinburgh Festivals Momentum International Programme
Kingston, Jamaica June 8, 2018
The British Council, in partnership with Edinburgh Festivals and Creative Scotland, has invited Latoya West-Blackwood, Chairman of the BIAJ to the prestigious Momentum, Edinburgh Festival’s International Delegates Programme taking place in the Scottish city this August.
Each year, the city of Edinburgh welcomes over 30,000 of the world’s leading arts professionals to enrich its famous August festivals season. Collectively Edinburgh’s festivals add £313m to the Scottish economy, with tourism, hospitality and leisure sectors being the main beneficiaries. The Festivals attract audiences of over 4.5 million, more than 30,000 artists from over 70 countries and 1,000 accredited media.
The bespoke delegate programme is by invitation only and hosts international delegations of producers, cultural leaders, entrepreneurs, government representatives, festival programmers and cultural/funding agencies. As country delegations, there are bespoke programmes for two art form-focused groups: Visual Arts and Literature.
Edinburgh is the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature and home to a community of celebrated authors. Whilst anchored around the Edinburgh International Book Festival garden site, the Momentum Literature programme offers participants a unique opportunity to make meaningful connections with the Scottish literature sector and visit the literary quarter in the city’s Old Town.
An elated West-Blackwood shared, “Literature is not an abstract activity for the enjoyment of a few. It is the axis on which everyday life and interactions revolve, a connector of people and the bridge which links our thoughts, experiences, history, and cultures of faraway places and societies. Edinburgh and its world-class festivals along with its well-developed ecosystem of support for the arts is the perfect space to learn and network to create even greater opportunities for Jamaica and its people.”
Each Momentum delegate is provided with an individually tailored schedule of activities, briefings, and meetings to help foster collaboration and exchange. The aim is to encourage new international partnerships, as well as collaboration with Edinburgh’s festivals and the wider arts sector in Scotland.
Since 2011, Momentum has brought over 500 international delegates to Edinburgh. These visits have resulted in seasons of work being presented by arts organizations from countries including India and New Zealand during the festivals and opened up opportunities for Scottish artists to forge new connections with their counterparts in Argentina, Australia, Japan and many other countries around the world.
“We are delighted to nominate Latoya to be part of this unique literary-focused delegation in Edinburgh,” said Norah Campbell, Head of Arts at the British Council in Scotland. “We are excited about the potential opportunities that exist for deepening the relationship between Jamaica and Scotland, and look forward to seeing her here in August.”
The British Council’s arts and creative economy strategy in Jamaica includes creating opportunities for heritage preservation and capacity-building for Festivals, thereby contributing to the development and sustainability of the “experience economy.” This year, the British Council has partnered with the Rebel Salute Festival to train young people in backstage festival skills; with the Kingston Book Festival for the very first Deaf Poetry Slam promoting the theme of Equality Diversity and Inclusion and with the Calabash International Literary Festival, the BBC and 14/18 Now to support the Unwritten Poems project.
The British Council also recently supported the participation of Enola Williams (Kingston on the Edge, KOTE), Lesley-Ann Welsh (Manifesto Jamaica) and in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture Gender Entertainment and Sports supported Michael Holgate (ASHE), to participate in the Edinburgh International Festivals Academy.
About the British Council:
The British Council is the United Kingdom’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding with over 110 countries by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries we work within the fields of arts, English language, education and civil society. Through our Arts programme, we seek to find new ways of connecting with each other through creativity and to develop stronger creative sectors around the world that are better connected with the UK.