Despite sponsorship woes earlier in the month, the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) seems to be on track to host what they hope will be the biggest staging of Reggae Month.
With a budget of $48 million to host 22 events during February, JaRIA was falling short. This was due, in part, to a reduction in sponsorship from the Jamaica Tourist Board.
Reggae Month is now just a week away, but JaRIA executive director, Charles Campbell, was not willing to say whether or not the gap has been filled. Instead, he promised that this will be announced at a press conference on Tuesday.
Nonetheless, he said the organisation is already looking towards the future with the intention of "reducing our over reliance on sponsorship from the public sector that has carried the main burden of the cash support".
"The festival has to become a valuable commodity that can win the financial support of the private sector. While we make it free to the public, we have to develop streams of income to help us cover some of our costs," he said.
And moving away from just entertainment, Campbell said he hopes Reggae Month will be able to create more business for the reggae industry through the trade fair that will be held at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, St Andrew, from February 19 to 21.
"It is going to be a market place for interfacing our local industry people to market their goods and services to international buyers," he told The Sunday Gleaner.
In addition to the trade fair, there will be the Open University that will be held every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday during the month at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre. This will include panel discussions, as well as documentaries on the highlights and growth of Jamaican music.
The month will also include Reggae Wednesdays that will be held at Emancipation Park in New Kingston, Sound System Explosion on February 22, the Dennis Brown Concert at the Waterfront in downtown Kingston on February 23, Trench Town International Concert at the Boys' Town Playfield on February 8 and the JaRIA Honour Awards at the Courtleigh Auditorium on February 15.
Moving forward, Campbell said a major change for next year is that the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre will be turned into a reggae village.
"We will be housed there for the month. We will be able to plan for the long term and have a 24-hour operation for the month. It will become a bubbling pot of intellectual and artistic works," Campbell said.
READY FOR REGGAE MONTH
As it relates to this year's staging of Reggae Month, he said, "The pieces of the puzzle are now in place. We are done with the planning and organising and now into the implementation phase. We have never been this ready."
Never mind the financial setback that was faced earlier in the year, Campbell said his expectations for the month are still very high.
"I expect us to have the biggest festival yet. I expect us to have a large foreign contingent, as well as increased local support," he said, adding that promotion of the event will be increased due to sponsorship from a few media houses.
"Having experimented with various events over the years, we have now come up with a blueprint to guide us for the next five years."