Support to the Performing Arts

10 Sep, 2013

Jamaica Cultural Development Commission

The Performing Arts category of the annual Festival of the Arts, mounted by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) as part of the national independence celebrations annually, has been a major beneficiary of funding support from the CHASE Fund, given the JCDC’s influence in the retention of our culture through its work with teachers, students, and community groups across the island.

And, as a result, the JCDC has been able to upgrade its training programmes, increase its subject and regional workshops; as well as, to develop special courses, such as the Certificate Course in Traditional Folk Forms and Mento Music in 2004.

In 2012, as Jamaica celebrated its 50th Anniversary of Independence, “consistent with its mandate to support Arts and Culture, the CHASE Fund was a global sponsor,” Robert Bryan, Director of the Jamaica 50 Secretariat, stated.

The Fund’s contribution of some $60 million supported the work of the Secretariat which spearheaded the planning and implementation of Jamaica 50 activities. And, in addition to traditional independence events, a central feature of Jamaica 50 included the Golden Jubilee Village at Independence Park, which drew thousands of visitors, noon to midnight, daily, from August 1 to 6, 2012.

The National Dance Theatre Company

The internationally-acclaimed National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), which has thrilled local and international audiences with its spirited choreography, agile dancers, and colourful costumes also celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012.

The CHASE Fund has invested in several aspects of the NDTC’s programmes, conscious of its artistic mandate and the substantial role that the NDTC plays as the premier Dance Theatre Company in the Caribbean; and its on-going education of a cadre of—professional dancers and choreographers, many of whom have formed their own dance ensembles.

The Company also nurtured composers and musicians; as well as, teachers of dance, lighting and sound technicians, stage managers, costume and set designers and cultural administrators, who not only serve the NDTC, but also influence dance traditions in schools and communities across the island.

During the past decade, CHASE assisted the NDTC to: replace the roof of its Dance Studio; mount several overseas tours; maintain its administration; underwrote the research cost for a video documentary on the Company, produced by MediaMix; and published “Dance Jamaica,” a seminal account of the NDTC’s journey to prominence, authored by its late founder and Artistic Director, Professor, the Hon. Rex Nettleford; as well as, printed brochures for its annual season.

The Company’s appreciation for those contributions was articulated by its Artistic Director, Barry Moncrieffe:

“CHASE remains an incalculable asset to the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) of Jamaica, as it has helped the NDTC to maintain its relevance as a cultural ambassador, while at the same time, forging a distinctive dance vocabulary and honing the techniques of talented practitioners through scholarships and grants.” –Barry Moncrieffe, Artistic Director

Throughout the decade several other outstanding dance troupes, also received funding from CHASE. Some of these groups include: The L’ACADO Dance Studio, for the completion of its studios in Kingston, and a developmental lecture series; the Tony Wilson Dance Centre, the Tivoli Gardens Dance Troupe, the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble; the Bridgeport Dance Ensemble and the Carl Campbell Dance Company 7.

The Little Theatre Movement (LTM)

For thousands of Jamaicans, the Little Theatre Movement (LTM), founded by Henry and Greta Fowler, is synonymous with the annual national pantomime. Over the past 72 years, the LTM, which is currently guided by Dr. the Hon. Barbara Gloudon, has produced some of the most memorable pantomimes.  It has influenced the emergence of talent in all aspects of the performing arts; assisted the development of the Jamaica School of Drama; as well as, generated a vibrant theatre culture throughout the society. 

The Little Theatre, the unique theatre complex established by the LTM, serves as the “home” for the performance season of noted organisations such as The National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble and Movements Dance Company. It also hosts the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s annual Festival of Dance. A $2.5 million   investment by the CHASE Fund in 2007 facilitated replacement of the stage at the Little Theatre.

 The stage is “the altar” of a theatre. While there is room for improvisation in performance and setting, the performer’s art is greatly enhanced when the stage is in good order. So, when the CHASE Fund came to the rescue of the Little Theatre stage, worn by time and the feet of hundreds of performers, it was an act, not only of kindness but pragmatic good sense, ensuring that the show will go on…Thank you, CHASE.” –Dr. the Hon. Barbara Gloudon, Chairperson, LTM

Many community and school theatre groups have also benefitted from CHASE funding  including: Sistren Theatre Collective; Area Youth Foundation (AYF), which provides opportunities for young people from volatile communities to be trained in —musical theatre, song writing, light and sound technology, stage and costume management;; and the Jamaica Youth Theatre, 2009.

Emancipation Tribute to Dr. the Hon. Louise Bennett Coverley

The late Hon, Louise Bennett-Coverley, OM, OJ, MBE, popularly known as “Miss Lou,” and recognised as a folklorist, writer, actress, educator, television and radio host, mesmerised Jamaican and international audiences with her ability to communicate, whether through her poems and songs in the rhythm of the Jamaican Patois, in Standard English, or a mixture of both.

For many Jamaicans, Miss Lou is a national icon…someone who spoke their language, who highlighted the nuances of their lifestyles, and who inspired them with hope, based on her personal achievements.

The CHASE Fund was proud to facilitate the official visit of the Dr. the Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley, on the occasion of the Emancipation celebrations in 2004, by underwriting some of the aspects of her last visit home.