A sum of $57 million has been allocated for the staging of the Independence Grand Gala at the National Stadium on Wednesday, August 6, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
This was disclosed by the Principal Director of Culture, Ministry of Youth and Culture, Dahlia Harris, at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’, held on Wednesday, July 30, at the agency’s head office in Kingston.
Miss Harris said although the cost to produce the show is lower than in previous years, it does not mean that it will not be as enjoyable.
“The reality in Jamaica is that we have to cut budgets at all levels,” she said, and commended the many artistes who have offered their services at “concessionary rates.”
Miss Harris noted that preparations are far advanced for the Gala and all the artistes have been booked. “It will be a tightly produced show and one we believe all Jamaicans will enjoy,” she added.
She informed that Cabinet had approved not just the programme of activities for this year’s Festival, but the concepts as well.
“And so from early we made a determination as to the content. When we brought the artistic team on board …it was about shaping those ideas and seeing how we could make them come to life and they have done a tremendous job,” she said.
Miss Harris pointed out that over 1,200 cast members have been pulled from various community groups to participate in the event.
“They have been working every day at the National Stadium to make sure that these choreographic delights are on par,” she added.
She noted that there will be a segment recognizing Jamaica’s National Hero, The Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which was conceptualized by Marcus Garvey.
“Within that there will be tributes to his concepts of Pan Africanism. We will also be saluting the Jamaican workers,” she added.
Miss Harris informed that Jamaican singers, Marcia Griffiths and Freddie McGregor; and the Skatalites will also be recognised for their 50 years in the Jamaican music industry. “They are slated to perform and to receive special presentations from the Government,” she added.
Explaining the benefits of hosting the Grand Gala, Miss Harris said it has provided employment for people, adding that most of the costumes are sewn and persons are fed by community members.
“It’s an opportunity for these 1,200 people from communities that would normally be engaging with each other every day, to come together and work through disciplined choreography and putting together this wonderful cohesive show,” she said, adding that it should be “a microcosm of how we need to operate in Jamaica.”
By Elaine Hartman Reckord