Reshaping Cultural Policies for the Promotion of Fundamental Freedoms and the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in Jamaica
Jamaica has gained international recognition notably for the creative talents of its musicians and music producers defining international musical trends, especially in the international reggae and dancehall scene. The flourishing culture and creative industries (CCIs) include vibrant music festivals and a trending film sector. Jamaica has adopted a number of policies and measures to strengthen its institutional and legal framework with regards to the CCIs and protect artists in the face of emerging challenges such as increasing digitization, enhancing intellectual property regimes, the integration of Jamaica’s creative goods and services in international market, or tackling inequalities as well as the sector’s inherent informal dynamics. Efforts must be pursued to ensure the implementation of those measures and the effectiveness and inclusiveness of institutional mechanisms for the governance of culture. Jamaica recently revised its National Policy on Culture and Creative Economy (2017-2027), with the support from the UNESCO International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD) reaffirming the island’s commitment to building sustainable systems of cultural governance. As part of this effort, Jamaica has set up the National Cultural and Creative Industries Commission in 2014 and elaborated the Jamaica Culture and Creative Industries Business plan, which seeks to increase Jamaica’s competitiveness in the global markets as well as to foster job creation. Jamaica’s Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports is partnering with UNESCO under the project funded by Sweden, to elaborate its first quadrennial periodic report, with the participation of a large range of stakeholders from the public and private sectors of Jamaican’s creative scene, such as fashion, literature, film, dances.
A multi-stakeholder consultation was held in Kingston, Jamaica on 31 October 2019 on the process for elaborating Jamaica’s Quadrennial Periodic Report (QPR). H.E. Ms Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport addressed the participants. The multi-stakeholder consultation discussed issues such as media diversity, digital technology, mobility of artists and gender equality in the cultural and creative sectors. Organised by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport and the UNESCO Office in Kingston, the consultation was the occasion to create a space for dialogue amongst representatives ranging from ministry, civil society organisations, private sector, professional associations, and artists.
A three-day national training workshop was held in Kingston, Jamaica, from 6 to 8 November 2019 and was organized by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport and the UNESCO Office in Kingston. Led by Avril Joffe, member of the UNESCO Expert Facility, the training welcomed government representatives from cultural fields as well as actors from Jamaica’s creative and cultural sector including fashion, broadcasting, film, literature, academia and the Rastafari community. Participants praised the in-depth look into Jamaica’s cultural management system and initiatives. “I learned about many new things that are happening in our creative sector and within the governmental system that I did not know about”, said one participant representing the creative community. The training’s focus was to improve Jamaican cultural professionals’ understanding of the 2005 Convention and its benefits for the island’s creative and cultural industries. The participants also learned how to fill out the quadrennial periodic report.
On 26 May 2020, Jamaica rolled of its first #Resiliart debate under the theme “Music and Murals: Making Cities Work for Caribbean Visual and Performing Artists During and Post COVID-19”, hosted by the South South Collective in partnership with Avaya and the Institute for Caribbean Studies & Reggae Studies Unit of the University of the West Indies, with the support of UNESCO. Among the artists were Olivia Wilmot, Singer-Songwirter, Richard Nattoo, Musician, Mathew McCarthy, Muralist, all from Jamaica, and Gretel Medina Delgado, Visual Arts Curator from Cuba.
The discussions surrounded how the music industry and the art of street-wall-paining in Jamaica and in the Region can strengthen the creative sector’s resilience. The artists shared their practices how to stay connected with their public during the time of covid-19 using available technologies to the current state of their respective artistic discipline. Their recommendations will help decision makers and private enterprises to develop suitable policies and financial mechanisms to assist artists recover from this difficult period and enhance the resilience of creative expressions.
On 19 May 2022, the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport organized a national launch of the Global Report, “ReIShaping Policies for Creativity”, in Jamaica. The event was opened by the Director and Representative of the UNESCO Cluster Office, the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport and the Swedish Ambassador for Jamaica. The presentation of the Global Report was followed by a thematic presentation of its third chapter on the digital environment, by Ojama Ochai, author of the chapter and member of the UNESCO Expert Facility. The main findings of the quadrennial periodic report were then discussed during a panel with CCIs stakeholders, followed by an exchange session with the audience.
The launch was organized during a larger capacity building workshop on data collection and promoting the creative ecosystem organized in the framework of the EU/UNESCO project, focusing on strengthening regulatory framework for CCIs through a Creative Economy Act in Jamaica.