The role of government in cultural industries development has been a topic of much debate when it comes to Jamaica. One view that is constantly put forward by some is that government should have nothing to do with music industry development. With all due respect to those who continue to hold that view, it is my opinion that your position is one based on ignorance. Sorry to be so harsh, but the facts speak for themself, if we take the time to examine what has worked for cultural industries that thrive in other countries around the globe.
I am not by any means considering a position in government in Jamaica, as indeed I think I would be a lonely soldier among a group self-serving politicians who lack vision and creativity. If however I were to dream of being the Minister of Culture in Jamaica, this is what I would wish to see:
- 1. The Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts be adequately funded and supported in order to expand its curriculum offerings and physical facilities to include more emphasis on courses focused on arts and entertainment management and entrepreneurship.
- 2. The Broadcasting Commission get some teeth, and come up with appropriate recommendations and measures to contain the scourge of Payola.
- 3. The Jamaica Tourist Board include the development of indigenous local culture as an essential and priority aspect of its programme for the enhancement of the local tourism product. We are more than sand and sea and lovely hotel buildings. Our music is also not Jamaica Jazz and Blues.
- 4. The inclusion of music education and appreciation courses as part of the curriculum in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, with appropriate support facilities such as musical instruments and tutors who recognize and appreciate the value of local music.
- 5. The provision of tax incentives to encourage local and international entrepreneurs to invest in production, training and presentation of local music on the Island.
Some of us may ask why it has not been possible to implement the above suggestions, when the fact is they are not by any means new ones. These and similar ideas have been presented to government in Jamaica time and time again over the past two decades. In my view one reason these measures have not been implemented has to do with the fact that the Ministry of Culture does not seem to have a say in, or any significant influence over, what is done by the Ministry of Information as regards the Broadcasting Commission, or the Minstry of Tourism with regard to how tourism promotion dollars are spent. The Jamaican Ministry of Culture has also apparently not been able to affect decision making within the Ministries of Industry and Commerce and Education respectively, when it comes to tax incentive regulations or the developments within our formal educational system.
My dream as Minister of Culture would therefore have to include the establishment of a joint Ministerial body headed by the Culture Minister to oversee the policy making activities and budgetary allocations in the abovementioned Ministries in so far as they relate to and/or impact the development of cultural industries.
I guess this will all remain a dream.