Industry insiders weigh in on Gov’t budget allocation for entertainment zones

March 15, 2024

article reposted by Chelsea


Major players in the entertainment industry have expressed mixed reactions to Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke’s announcement that resources have been allocated towards the rehabilitation of two fully functional 24/7 entertainment zones.

Veteran sound system owner Winston “Father Pow” Powell reacted with guarded optimism to the plans to allocate $120 million to rehabilitate Jamworld in Portmore, St Catherine, and Fort Rocky in east Kingston.

“It’s never too late for a shower of rain, so this is welcome news,” Father Pow, CEO, Stone Love Movements, told the Jamaica Observer.

“It’s just to see how the execution will be done. I just hope that they explore the whole ground over Jamworld, because there is a drainage problem there because, when rain fall, the parking lot is very muddy. The authorities have to make sure that they don’t just put up a structure, but that the grounds are set up to ensure the safety and comfort of patrons,” he continued.

Still, he said the “tricky point” will be the affordability of the upgraded Jamworld venue for financially-challenged promoters.

“The poorer promoters could find it a challenge, and it might force out the small man,” he said.

In his opened presentation for the 2024-25 budget debate on Tuesday in the House of Representatives, Dr Nigel Clarke said: “Minister Grange is a strong advocate and wants musicians to have spaces where they can earn their livelihood in peace, and where Jamaicans have the opportunity to enjoy reggae music in peace.”

Back in November 2022 Minister Grange had revealed that the 70 acres of land which make up Jamworld had become the property of her ministry and, as such, would become the best entertainment venue in the western hemisphere.

One selector, who spoke on condition of anonymity, dismissed the announcement as “sheer politics”.

“You know how long we ah fight fi this? Ah long time we ah fight for dancehall and reggae music. If the Government was interested in doing something, they would amend the Noise Abatement Act,” the selector said.

“This locking off of sound systems and dances has been a sore point for years… It is out of the parish council hands, and out of [Grange’s] hands; this is a police issue. Ah dem come lock off yuh sound…” he charged.

He cited corruption and favouritism in how the Noise Abatement Act is enforced and interpreted by police officers.

Others, however, hailed the move as a step in the right direction.

DJ Tom, the promoter behind the staging of Leggo Di Streets Wednesdays — a weekly party held at 27 1/4 Central Road in Kencot — embraced the idea and called for more zones across the island.

“I don’t think two ah go really work; we need at least five entertainment zones to how the place big and certain people don’t want to go certain place to party. But it is a great idea… “ he said.

Fort Rocky was selected as Jamaica’s first entertainment zone which would allow for the hosting of events and free, unimpeded playing of music. But in the seven years since that announcement, the rehabilitation of the space has moved at snail’s pace.

Vivian Thomas, promoter of Blitz party series to be held on March 31 in Portmore, said he would be looking forward to the opening of Jamworld as a 24/7 entertainment facility.

“This is a win for the dancehall culture, something we ah fight for years… I would love to see more of these mediums and outlets for the artistes to get exposure… Next year, instead of Sugar Man’s Beach, I will be one of the first to keep it at Jamworld,” Thomas, who is also CEO of Pusha Yute Records, said.

Meanwhile, reggae artiste Protoje, when questioned on Minister Clarke’s announcement, did not immediately respond to enquiries.

Earlier this year, the Hills singer had vented his frustration after policemen abruptly ended his Lost In Time Festival.

“Yow, Jamaica, dem seh no more, mek sure unnu Government know seh wi need reggae music fi play inna Kingston,” he protested before throwing down his microphone and exiting the stage.

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