PM Holness Building A School For Reggae and Dancehall

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced that a school will be built for Reggae and Dancehall, which strives to educate and train upcoming entertainers and empower the younger generation. On Tuesday, Holness spoke at a ground-breaking about Jamaica’s first school for “visual and creative artists” named Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Academy. He announced that “there will be a school dedicated to training our upcoming entertainers and deejays and musicians” in the “technical and softer points of the entertainment industry,” which is an area he believes can be exploited for “economic and social development.”

The institution will be built at Dunbeholden, Bernard Lodge in St. Catherine, on the lands of the Government’s Greater Bernard Lodge Development Plan, which spans about 5,400 acres.

Seven months ago, PM Holness, as part of his contribution to the House of Parliament’s 2022/2023 Budget Debate, declared an annual “modern music grant” for Reggae and Dancehall talents to continue their professional progress. At the time of this announcement, he stated that the modern music grant would ensure that Jamaica continues to influence worldwide trends in music, arts, and culture. He explained that the music and entertainment sector would award four Jamaicans (one in classical music, one in reggae music, and two in the dancehall genre) each year with the grant so that they could advance their careers. Musicians, performers, sound engineers, and composers were all eligible to receive the subsidy.

According to DancehallMag, Holness compared the popularity of Afrobeats to that of Dancehall and Reggae, which he said was due to the stakeholders in Afrobeats implementing a strategic approach to developing their product. He elaborated that this is because those stakeholders, unlike the stakeholders in Dancehall and Reggae, perceived the music as art, creativity, and intellectual property that could generate wealth, profit, and value instead of mere culture. He stated that he would be taking measures to ensure that a commercial approach is taken to develop Reggae and Dancehall music, which he asserts is the origin of Afrobeats.

Furthermore, he outlined that the stakeholders in Dancehall and Reggae needed to change their perspectives of the culture, which, if viewed as a business, can “generate economic growth.” Additionally, he vowed to invest time in exploring ways the government can establish institutions to promote and transform the culture into an “economic entity.” In order to ensure that stakeholders have institutional access to loans, the prime minister also announced that the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) would set up a $500 million entertainment restart facility. He indicated that the loans would be accessible on a “commercial basis,” accompanied by considerable facilitation. He noted that this would assist in bringing “the informal entertainment sector finally and firmly into the formal sector.”

Subsequently, PM Holness stated he had received numerous suggestions from those working in the music and entertainment industries regarding specific support to protect the producers and creators of music, such as improvements to intellectual property, trademarks, and copyright registration. Nevertheless, he had stated that those issues would be dealt with further down the line when he and Minister of Entertainment Olivia “Babsy” Grange had studied the recommendations and partnered with the relevant industries.

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