As Manifesto Jamaica launches its festival today at the Edna Manley with an amazing line-up of activities, including dance and music workshops, poetry 101, discussions about the future of the Arts movement. I think about how far Jamaica has evolved, to a great extent through the arts. Where we have failed economically, we have managed to be influencers, not with dollars but with words, songs, dance, and art.
We are still a young society, gaining independence August 6, 1962. As we move into our 50th year, we are evaluating the different ways in which we can utilize our natural creative advantage to change the inequalities and low productivity rates that now face us. The Bauxite Industry due to mismanagement in the 70s and subsequest fall off in demand is no longer a solution. We no longer own our sugar factories, and even if they now become profitable, the profits will not be truly ours. Tourism can be self destructive as the more tourists, the more strain on our natural resources unless the process is carefully managed, moreover the product is dependent on the level of disposable income of our visitors, and in recessonary times can be unstable to say the least. What we have no shortage or limitation on though is the ability to creatively innovate.
|Picture from the Jamaica Gleaner,April 3rd 2010|
This innovation comes in the form of new dances, at least one a week these days, or dub poetry and new dancehall tunes that are produced everyday. It comes out when the downtown streetside hairdressers compete to have the hottest hair designs for the 'session' (J'can party), or the dressmakers cut a style. These everyday inventions form the fabric of our society and must not be belittled. This is where our social capital truly lies and this is where we can continue to distinguish ourselves, in a time when globalization is leading to homogeneous cultures. it is time to truly take advantage not only from the point of view of influencing the world, but also from an economic perspective with the creation of industries around them.