Diaspora vital to creative development, says Jamaica’s Culture Minister
Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports Olivia “Babsy” Grange assures Jamaicans overseas that the government is committed to “seeking closer relations, collaboration and exchange” between Jamaica and the Diaspora, as the nation launches new initiatives to boost profitable creative industries.
In town last week to deliver an address at the “Creative and Cultural Industries Symposium” at Broward College, Davie Campus, Minister Grange outlined plans to turn Jamaica’s culture and sport activities into viable commercial enterprises. The ultimate goal, says Grange, is to exploit the country’s other creative outputs that could prove just as valuable as its lucrative reggae music.
And the Diaspora, argues Grange, will prove essential to these ventures. She confirms the ministry’s plans to collaborate with local cultural productions among the Diaspora in the U.S., from folk festivals to culinary showcases, to mutually promote Brand Jamaica in the American market.
“My presence at this event is manifestation of the government’s commitment to engage the Diaspora in Jamaica’s culture, and the importance of the Diaspora, especially the thousands of Jamaicans in South Florida, to Jamaica’s cultural development,” says Grange in an interview with Caribbean National Weekly. “We want to engage the Diaspora in all cultural activities, and plan to collaborate, have direct involvement and provide whatever support Jamaica can to cultural events and activities planned in the Diaspora community.”
Promoting Jamaica’s cultural attractions, such as the historic Accompong Maroon Festival, also seeks to attract more Diaspora travelers back home – targeting those who would be more invested in supporting both old and new cultural ventures.
“The government is aware Jamaicans from the Diaspora and other visitors come to Jamaica annually for [Accompong] festival, but much more can be done to properly market the event as a major Jamaican cultural event, attracting more visitors,” says the Minister Grange. The government plans to give more marketing and technical support to the Festival as a tourism product. Plans are also already in place to host a major event for Jamaica’s 55th year of independence next year, with special appeal for Diaspora.
Minister Grange also expounded on the government’s plans to build on the nation’s achievements in track and field to create a major international sport enterprise. She cites Jamaica’s annual inter-secondary school championships as “probably the only one of its kind in the world” and a major attraction for U.S. scouts seeking new track and field talent.
“Many young Jamaican athletes have received international sports scholarships as a result,” says the Minister. The government also plans to ensure sports are an integral part of the nation’s creative industries.
“Maximizing on the success of the world fastest man and woman, Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, we plan to market Jamaica as a primary international athletic training center under the theme ‘Come to Jamaica.’ We have the training facilities, experienced coaches and technical infrastructure to train athletes from anywhere in the world. Already our coaches are in demand overseas earning the nation foreign exchange revenue.”