Deputy Director of the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ), Nicole Patrick-Shaw, describes the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund’s donation of $27.5 million to bolster the organisation’s work, as “game-changing!” She informed that the provision, which was presented to the IOJ in January, was utilised to fund several of the organisation’s projects.
The donation included roof repairs to exhibition galleries, including the National Gallery of Jamaica; digitisation of the photography collection of the David Boxer estate; video production equipment and support for virtual tours; fireproofing of filing cabinets; termite treatment for facilities; musical instruments and equipment for the Junior Centre; National Museum exhibitions; restoration of the Waterwheel at the People’s Museum in Spanish Town; support for the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Website; and computer, UPS’s and software upgrades.
Mrs. Patrick-Shaw says the IOJ was adversely impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which forced the institution to close its exhibitions to the public and an indefinite suspension of other activities that they typically organise.
“CHASE stepping in was a game-changer for us because it enabled us to create more aesthetically pleasing content that would be attractive and appealing to the public. We were also able to produce content in greater volume than before, as we did not have to rent some of the equipment as we had the necessary software and equipment in house,” she explains.
The CHASE Fund has donated approximately $58M in grant funding that has been provided to support various initiatives of the IOJ and its divisions since 2003.
The purchasing of photography and video-production equipment, which included cameras, enabled the IOJ to create content that can now be accessed online.
“The funds provided by CHASE have improved our capacity by providing us with the resources to purchase the tools required to create online productions during our closure. We have been able to film our sites and do shows to highlight content and we have never done things like this before,” Mrs. Patrick-Shaw pointed out.
She said the pandemic had prompted the IOJ to reinvent its business model.
“We realised that we had to change to remain relevant and are able to push brand Jamaica forward. Since March this year, the IOJ has created a whole new museum, one that is virtual where we communicate and deliver content electronically to our local and regional stakeholders,” she added.
According to Mrs Patrick-Shaw, the repair of roofs along with termite treatment across departments at the organisation was critical to capacity building and enhancing customer service.
“The roof at the National Gallery was leaking and the gallery is the repository of our arts, and we can’t have water falling on these things. We also had roof repairs at the museum, termite treatment was done for over 10 years. We have had flooding due to the roof leakage in different departments. So, the funds coming in was extremely crucial, as it does not only facilitate a better environment for staff but also it improves our capacity to serve the public,” she shared.
The Junior Centre, the IOJ’s programme coordination division’s children’s arm, also benefited greatly from the funding, as the IOJ purchased items such as microphones, microphone stands, mixers, drums, melody horns, tambourines and keyboard stands for its music programme.
“The Junior Centre targets children at risk, aged six-18 years old, and those who have an interest in arts to foster their intellectual, aesthetic and cultural growth. These instruments will facilitate further development of the music programme at the Junior Centre. The children come in the after-school programme and they will learn the skills in music and if they perform at a higher standard, we take them to the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, which helps to build their self-esteem and confidence,” Mrs. Patrick-Shaw indicated.
The Deputy Director praised the CHASE Fund for its work in helping to preserve Jamaica’s culture and advancing the modernisation of the institution’s work.
“This funding CHASE has donated will not just impact us momentarily but it will transform the lives of the children and helps us to reinvent ourselves and give the organisation a glimmer of hope during a difficult time.”
Chief Executive Officer of the CHASE Fund, Billy Heaven, says the organisation is committed to supporting institutions that preserve Jamaica’s heritage in the interest of the public. “Under CHASE’s arts and culture portfolio, we provide financial support to projects which, among other things, lead to improvement of libraries, archives and documentation facilities; encourage the people of Jamaica, especially the young, to utilise such facilities and services; offer programmes which develop the talents and skills in Jamaica’s youth in arts and culture as well as projects which seek to restore and maintain the country’s historic sites and monuments,” he explained.
Mr. Heaven added that the CHASE Fund was proud to work with the IOJ to facilitate the preservation and advancement of Jamaica’s cultural objectives.
“The preservation of the wide collection of documents stands out in my mind as one of the critical areas that needed support. CHASE has financed the digitisation of this and other collections and, most recently, the photography collection from the David Boxer estate, with the intention that it will be better preserved and more easily accessed.”