The activities will formally close out ‘Jamaica 50’ celebrations Story Highlights The Government is looking at utilising culture as one of the country’s global competitive advantages UN has urged Jamaica to invest in their creative industries Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, says the administration is seeking to rekindle in Jamaicans, a spirit of patriotism and an appreciation of the country’s rich cultural heritage, through the Emancipation and Independence celebrations.“As an administration, it is important to us to give people the opportunity to understand their Independence, appreciate it, hold it, taste it, love it and we wanted, for those persons who are not able to get out there and see one of the big stage shows, to also give them the best of what Jamaica has to offer, both locally and internationally,” she said.Miss Hanna was addressing a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’, at the agency’s headquarters in Kingston, on July 30.The Minister said coming out of Jamaica 50 events last year, the Government is looking at utilising culture as one of the country’s global competitive advantages, which is also consistent with its policy thrust.“Whether we want to believe it or not, the world puts a priceless value on Jamaican culture. People think it’s ‘cool’ to be Jamaican and we have to continue to build on that, grow it, harness it, keep our young people right here, build the performance arts centres for them, which we are committed to doing, and certainly turn this country around, using our culture,” she said.Miss Hanna noted that according to the United Nations (UN) Trade and Development Committees and Commissions, Jamaica’s culture is synonymous with “who we are as a people, and synonymous with culture in the world is Jamaica, and that we need to invest more in our culture and creative industries.”“So, it is against that background that we took a strategic thrust to, not only increase our budgetary allocations toward culture this year, and certainly festival activities, in our Estimates of Expenditure, but certainly to highlight our anniversaries, our journeys, and to open more museums. We’ve opened three museums before Independence, the Roxborough museum, the Seville museum, and the National museum of Jamaica,” she informed.A sum of $100 million has been budgeted for Emancipation and Independence celebrations 2013, which begin July 31 and end on Independence Day (August 6).The activities, to be held under the theme: ‘Celebrating Jamaica: Triumphant, Proud and Free’, will formally close out ‘Jamaica 50’ celebrations.The objectives of the celebrations are to: commemorate the country’s 51st year of political independence, and give Jamaicans an opportunity to collect keepsakes from ‘Jamaica 50’; offer presentations in dance, music, theatre and visual arts; and to recognise the National Heroes, Jamaican icons, and institutions.This year’s celebrations will also offer rich, wholesome family-oriented entertainment, with periods of reflection and discussion.The Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, in Kingston, will be the venue for all activities from August 1 to 5, which will be transformed into a ‘village’, opening each day at noon, with booths and stalls displaying craft, art, and other memorabilia.The Ministry will partner with the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), for the major Emancipation celebration. The JNHT will be hosting the Emancipation Jubilee at Seville, in St. Ann, to kick-start this segment of the celebrations.Vigils will be held across parishes on July 31, followed by Mello Go Roun’ at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre on August 1; while August 2 will feature some of the most popular festival songs.The public is invited to select the top 20 Festival songs of the period, which in their opinion best depict the country’s independence journey, by texting to: 444- 2407, or online at www.jcdc.gov.jm. The top 20 songs will be performed on grand gala night by various artistes, and an overall winner announced.Meanwhile, the National Festival Queen Show will be held on August 3, followed on August 4, by the National Independence Thanksgiving Service at Bethel Baptist Church, beginning at 10:15 a.m., and the National Gospel Song Showcase, starting at 7:00 p.m.The World Reggae Dance competition will be staged on August 5, featuring contestants from other countries, such as Japan, Guadeloupe and Finland.Also, over the five days, there will be a “reasoning” session at 3:00 p.m. on a number of topics, such as skin bleaching; music and youth; and politics.Grand gala celebrations will take place on August 6, at the National Stadium, beginning at 5:00 p.m.