Entertainment managers and local hotel talent scouts will soon have access to a wider pool of Western Jamaica-based talent in the performing arts. Fifty-two individuals recently completed a month-long series of training sessions through the Level Up Performing Arts Masterclass Intensive Workshop. It was organised by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), which falls under the Ministry of Tourism.
Participants in the first workshop were able to strengthen their performing skills in the areas of professional dance, vocal training, acting, performance skills, drumming, customer service, and communication skills.
Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett described the initiative as a capacity-building training programme aimed at “harnessing the skills of some of our budding artistes and entertainers, and enabling them to be part of the tourism explosion to come”.
Speaking at their graduation at the Montego Bay Conference Centre on May 26, Bartlett said the programme specifically targeted western participants who did not have easy access to professional training available in Kingston.
He explained that it was designed to help participants improve their skills and increase their employability. It is also a vehicle through which scouts may view dynamic and talented local performers which businesses can utilise as part of their product offering.
Bartlett expressed the view that while Jamaica has an abundance of talent in the areas of music, singing, dance and acting, the primary opportunities for formal training in these areas were predominantly located in Kingston. Consequently, people based in western Jamaica had to invest much more to relocate to be able to access these training opportunities.
“This challenge has impacted how western-based performers are able to develop their performance skills and thus be employable in the tourism sector,” he said.
In addition to meeting local demand on a much wider scale, he also expects that this will disrupt the trend of importation of such talent.
The Level Up initiative has received the stamp of approval from the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association. It has also received strong endorsement from Director of Studies, School of Dance at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Neila Ebanks; Theatre Artist and Educator, Owen “Blakka” Ellis; along with participants Andre Walker and Hennesia Edwards’ testimonials on how valuable it has been.
The graduation was combined with an hour-long professionally arranged presentation by the participants showcasing their range of talents in what TEF Chairman, Godfrey Dyer described as “an excellent show”.
The masters of ceremony were well-known Montego Bay compère, Brian Brown, and Level Up participant, Zuri Nguvu.