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Festival 2018 plans take shape

Monday, October 16, 2017

PLANNING has begun for next year's staging of the Jamaica Festival Song Competition. The 2018 installation should see a revamped and exciting event which will boost the nation's spirit during the Independence period and beyond.

Interim executive director at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Orville Hill said the agency has decided to move quite early with the planning, as every effort is being made to reposition and restore the competition to its former glory.

The event was postponed this year due to the poor standard of the entries.

Hill explained a lot of thought is now going into restructuring some elements of the competition, including emphasis on getting more professional and semi-professional performers to enter, as well as refining the format and judging criteria.

“We see Festival as one of the flagship products of the Independence celebrations. We know the great lift in the national spirit that comes from having a popular Festival Song that the entire nation can sing and dance to. It goes a long way in reminding us of the rich and diverse musical culture and heritage that Jamaica has been blessed with. Our duty is to restore confidence, anticipation, and participation from the general public at home and in the Diaspora,” he said.

Senior performer and broadcaster and a former JCDC talent competition participant Vernon Derby, who is also a JCDC commissioner, has been drafted in to assist with shaping next year's event.

Hill said the success of the venture depends on getting the right mix of individuals, experiences and talents working in sync.

“Successful organisation of an event of this nature requires a lot of passion and commitment and it is important that we get the right people on board. So we have looked at strengthening the core capabilities, including the technical expertise and public relations apparatus. We have to widen the appeal and get the contestants and the wider public to take ownership of the competition by actively supporting the entries of their choice,” said Hill.

“One of the major things we are hoping to achieve with next year's competition is an improvement in the incentives packages. We want to make it so attractive that everybody, regardless of the stage their careers are at, will think it worthwhile to become a participant. To this extent, we are appealing to the private sector to come onboard with us and make this a success,” he continued.

The Jamaica Festival Song Competition began in 1966 and has unearthed some of Jamaica's finest musical talents including Toots and the Maytals, Desmond Dekker, Hopeton Lewis, and Eric Donaldson.