Music is deeply etched into the historic foundations of Jamaica with its capital, Kingston, home to 660,000 inhabitants, leading the way with urban development. Legendary musicians, world famous recording studios and production houses have made Kingston an internationally renowned centre for music-making. The hometown of Bob Marley and Dennis Brown has been the breeding ground of six musical genres: reggae, mento, ska, rocksteady and dancehall. Today, the music sector remains the driver of the local economy with a global value of over US$130 million and employing around 43,000 people.
Kingston considers music as a lever for social inclusion and social change, and so its main festivals, such as the African Liberation Concert and the Reggae Month, are held in public spaces and free of cost. Many of the musicrelated events have resulted from joint cooperation between the public and the private sectors, joining forces to offer ever-wider participation to cultural life. The city puts particular emphasis on building capacities and creating opportunities to tackle youth unemployment, especially in the disadvantaged inner city where most of Kingston’s music has found its origins.
The Municipality of Kingston views creativity as an essential component in the city’s strategies and reflects this in the Vision 2030 national development plan. Alongside the integration of creativity, great attention is paid to ensuring the protection of creators’ status and rights. In 2015, the city made significant amendments to the Copyright Act, by adding a clause on the protection of digital works. In addition, Kingston hosts several copyright-related symposia including the Intellectual Property Rights Week gathering a large number of music industry professionals.
As a Creative City of Music, Kingston envisages:
- using music as a driver for sustainable and inclusive urban development by focusing on the revitalisation of the inner city to harness the full creative potential of people from vulnerable and disadvantaged groups;
- building public-private partnerships in the field of music to increase the number of creative clusters and development programmes;
- establishing the Live Music Museum, a creative incubator focusing on building capacities and offering vocational courses to youths; broadening access to, and participation in, cultural life by bringing music to outdoor venues;
- promoting intercultural dialogue through exchange programmes through the Edna Manley Music School, as well as the Simon Bolivar Cultural Centre, aimed to develop initiatives showcasing the ties between cities in the Caribbean; and
- fostering exchanges of know-how, best practices and expertise with other Creative Cities of Music.