Activities for Reggae Month were officially launched during a function held at Ribbiz Ultra Lounge in Kingston on Monday (January 22).
This year’s celebration marks the 11th anniversary of the official declaration of February as Reggae Month.
The month-long activities have received financial support from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) in the sum of $15 million.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, said Reggae Month is a gem of authentic Jamaican cultural expression and interpretation that provides a springboard for the championing of Kingston as the birthplace of Reggae music.
“We are always aware of the impact Reggae music has had on the world and that it attracts visitors to our island and brings attention to Jamaica,” Ms. Grange said in a message read by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Denzil Thorpe.
She noted that through events such as Trench Town Festival; Reggae Wednesdays; the Bob Marley Annual Lecture; Sound System Explosion; and the Grounation Series, which this year focuses on Marcus Garvey’s Freedom Sounds, the messages of peace, sustainable earth practices and their connection to Reggae music are echoed.
Ms. Grange highlighted that the 2016 Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy, commissioned by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), estimated that approximately 6,000 to 12,000 people were employed in Jamaica’s music industry, of whom 2,500 were musicians, 1,700 were employed by sound systems, and an additional 600 were studio performers.
“That study estimated that culture and the creative Industries contributed 5.2 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP), generating revenue of US$15 million to US$20 million annually and accounting for three per cent of total employment,” she noted.
“To support this data, in 2016, the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) requested a study to measure the impact of the work of the JCDC on the nation’s economy. The data revealed that the majority of the spending occurred in the Music category, which amounted to $26.9 million, yielding backward linkage of $38 million, forward linkage of $125 million and an overall multiplier effect of $559.8 million,” Ms. Grange added.
She further noted that entertainment is serious business globally, and, in Jamaica, “we need to use this celebration of Reggae Month as a mark of the Government’s commitment to drive policy that will streamline entertainment through development of Entertainment Zones, developing policy and legislation that deal directly with entertainment and using historic cultural sites smartly, that is, have them become more economically viable”.
For his part, Chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association, Michael “Ibo” Cooper, thanked the Ministry and other stakeholders for supporting the initiatives.
“Real value of this legacy can add such an increase to our tourist complement right across the island and not just in Kingston. Down the road, we are confident you will see great turnout of visitors from all over the world attending events,” Mr. Cooper said.
This year, patrons will once again have a series of events for a wide spectrum of reggae lovers. This will range from dub poetry, a public-speaking competition, a reggae pasta party, live weekly concerts, lectures, an Honour Awards ceremony and a free mega-concert in downtown Kingston on the Waterfront.