The Arts in Educational Institutions

10 Sep, 2013

The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create.” –US President Barack Obama

The development of appropriate physical facilities for students of the arts has been another priority for CHASE, in its ongoing quest to transform lives. The Phillip Sherlock Centre for the Performing Arts at The University of the West Indies, and the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, as well as the music rooms and libraries at numerous primary and high schools across the island have been refurbished and equipped as part of this thrust.

The Phillip Sherlock Centre at the UWI

The Phillip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts (PSCCA), at The University of the West Indies, Mona campus, is one of three major purpose-built theatre venues in Jamaica. The facility, constructed four decades ago, meets the professional criteria for performing spaces; and is in great demand for events staged by the University. The PSCCA is also the “home” venue for prestigious performing arts groups such as The University Singers.

Brian Heap, Senior Lecturer & Staff Tutor in Drama at the Centre, points out that although definitions of development do not usually include arts and culture, “CHASE pursues an enlightened partnership policy, which is in keeping with the UNCTAD Report on the Creative Economy 2010. That Report speaks, in part, to the important role that creative industries are playing in stimulating economic recovery.”

In 2006, the CHASE Fund funded the Centre’s International Drama and Education Research Conference; and subsequently provided a grant of $1.5 million to complete the replacement of its main stage. And, it was projected that the Centre would increase its earning power, and generate surplus to finance maintenance of lighting and sound equipment, as well as other facilities, which will generally raise the operational standards of the facility.

“The CHASE Fund’s partnership with the UWI to support infrastructure development at this national arts facility means that Jamaicans can continue to enjoy a choice of visual and performing arts programmes. Through this partnership, CHASE is also indirectly promoting student growth; as well as, to organisations and groups such as the Multi-care Foundation, the National Culture Group for the Blind and many charities, which use the Centre, or are beneficiaries of proceeds from its performances and fundraising events.”  — Brian Heap, Senior Lecturer & staff Tutor, Phillip Sherlock Centre

The Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts

The Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMC), the first institution of its kind in the English-Speaking Caribbean, has a unique history of excellence. The College emerged from the Cultural Training Centre (CTC), which was consolidated in 1976, when the Government of Jamaica merged four schools—The School of Visual Arts, the School of Music, the School of Dance and the School of Drama, under one umbrella, at Arthur Wint Drive, in St. Andrew.

In 1983, the Organisation of American States (OAS) recognised the CTC as the Inter-American Centre for Caribbean Cultural Development; and in 1995, the Centre was reclassified as a tertiary institution and renamed. Today, students at the EMC are from Caribbean states, and other countries around the world, pursuing programmes from the certificate level to the Bachelor of Arts Degree.

Since 2004, the CHASE Fund has consistently supported infrastructure upgrades at the College. Funding has covered the installation of lighting equipment, and the refurbishing of the Dennis Scott Studio Theatre at the School of Drama; the laying of a new dance floor and hosting of a dance symposium for performers and choreographers, at the School of Dance; improvement of the general library, which serves all four schools.

Other areas in which the Fund has invested include: the development of an Online Library of Jamaican and Caribbean Art to meet the requirements for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts; the design of a state-of-the-art website; and the funding of advanced studies, locally and overseas, for several EMC graduates—particularly, musicians and singers, who have excelled.

EMC Programme in Fashion Design: In 2010, the CHASE Fund co-funded the establishment of a Bachelor of the Fine Arts degree in Fashion Design at the Edna Manley School for the Visual and Performing Arts; and refurbished the Fashion Department, in association with Supreme Ventures Limited.

The project emerged from the intervention of Keneea Linton-George, founder of the Designers Guild of Jamaica, against the background of the fashion designing reality television show, Mission Catwalk; and the EMC’s Textiles Fashion Department was used as a backdrop for the production.

Of the total investment of $3.1 million, some $1.8 million was contributed by CHASE; and the remainder by the SVL.  The project included replacing the flooring in the Textile Department at the Edna Manley College; as well as, securing sewing machines, cutting tables and mannequins.

Our approach to the Fine Arts Degree Programme will produce entrepreneurs who can make significant contributions to the economy by developing by developing small and medium enterprises, as part of the creative industries. And, we are positioning education and training at the core of the creative industries to ensure sustainability. The CHASE Fund’s investment provided the essential equipment to begin the programme; and will also contribute to that continuity.” –Petrona Morrison, Director, School of the Visual Arts, EMC