More Support for Jamaican Music Festivals

Jamaica’s cultural calendar is a year-round phenomenon, and it’s expanding. While this is not the only aspect of our creative industries, it is gratifying to see more support for reggae music evolving.

The team behind Reggae Sunsplash: (l-r) Debbie Bissoon, Tyrone Wilson, Jodi Taylor and Randy Rich. (Photo: Twitter)

Digital media entrepreneur Tyrone Wilson (who celebrated a decade in business last year) is busy again, breaking new ground. Over Christmas last year, the young CEO of eMedia Interactive (whom I first met up with and interviewed at the University of Technology some years ago) announced his company’s new partnership. This is with the Guardsman Group (which has taken a 35% stake in eMedia) with the aim of reviving the iconic Reggae Sunsplash festival – possibly in 2020. Sunsplash was a classic in its day, starting up in 1978. The last one was held in 1996.

Tyrone commented on Twitter: “One thing we are positive about, this is an iconic brand that has impacted Reggae Festivals across the world. We look forward to working with the entire industry as we make further investments in our very own Reggae Music.”

Is the music festival landscape in danger of becoming too crowded? That remains to be seen. Each event must be able to establish its own identity and audience – a niche if you will. Rebel Salute has already established its own. The revived Reggae Sunsplash will have to come with something fresh and new, perhaps. There is also Reggae Sumfest to contend with.

Meanwhile, for the second year, the British Council is using the Rebel Salute festival this month as a platform for training in music and technical skills. Here’s more from them:

Jamaican trainees Patrick Garrell (left) and Najay Pearce during stage set-up for last year’s Rebel Salute festival. (Photo: British Council)

British Council partners with Rebel Salute Festival for second staging of Backstage to the Future: Caribbean

 For the second year running, the British Council will be delivering their flagship international live music skills training programme for young people – Backstage to the Future: Caribbean – in partnership with the Rebel Salute Festival. This year, 12 trainees will be offered the opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge in stage management, lighting and sound, through on-site teaching of technical skills and hands-on shadowing, at Rebel Salute’s annual live music event slated for January 18-19, 2019.

“We have expanded the scope of the programme this year, increasing the number of Jamaican participants to five. In addition to the Green Moon Festival in San Andrés, Colombia, and Rebel Salute here in Jamaica, we’ve added the Havana World Music Festival in Cuba as a third event at which these young professionals will receive additional training. We also recognise the importance of contributing content and are supporting the participation of top international Reggae act, Dawn Penn at the festival,” shared British Council Country Director, Olayinka Jacobs-Bonnick.

“This partnership underscores the commitment of the British Council towards creating opportunities for cultural exchange that support social and economic development, through the arts and the creative economy, in Jamaica. Rebel Salute provides an excellent training ground for the future generation of festival professionals. We are very pleased to support the growth and development of youth in Jamaica and the Caribbean, by contributing to the continuing professionalization of the live event sector, building bridges between Jamaican festival professionals, the UK and international markets, as well as creating jobs through self-employment.” Jacobs-Bonnick outlined.

Reggae music icon and festival founder, Tony Rebel, maintains his support for the partnership and role an international group of trainees will play in the execution of the international two-day festival.

Backstage to the Future: Caribbean is a British Council skills training programme for live music events that was launched in San Andrés, Colombia, in August 2017, during the 30th anniversary of the Green Moon Festival. The programme is designed to develop and nurture future live-event producers and technicians across the outdoor and music live events sector in San Andrés and Providencia (Colombia), Cuba, Jamaica and Venezuela, with a focus on building technical and soft skills for the performing arts and live events sector. It is intended to foster and strengthen relationships between the United Kingdom (UK), Colombia, Cuba, Jamaica and Venezuela, by encouraging learning and knowledge transfer between the countries and building links between institutions.

“Innovation flourishes when diverse perspectives, disciplines and skills meet and the collaboration with the UK and with the region in Backstage To The Future is proof of this. This weekend, young people across the region will be working with the best of British and Jamaican creative talent to produce one of the region’s largest music festivals and improve their own production skills. At the British Council, we are honored to have the opportunity to help shape the future of young creatives. Live music has an incredible impact around the globe and through this program, and others in the Arts. The British Council will continue to strengthen Jamaica’s role as a Cultural Mecca in the region and we remain committed to sustainable development in the cultural and creative sector,” explained British Council Arts Project Manager, Jherane Patmore.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. We do this by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.

Trainees take notes from Ryan Bailey (right), stage manager for last year’s Rebel Salute festival. (Photo: British Council)



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