Having given the world some of its most exciting musical art forms, the Caribbean has staked its claim as a major international cultural center. The steel band, calypso, reggae and soca made their entry into the world of entertainment and culture in the 20th century dominating niche segments of the global market and in the case of reggae and calypso they have crossed over into the global musical mainstream in a fashion that has taken the industry by storm.
These aspects of Caribbean culture plus interpretive and limbo dancing are to be the center-pieces of a wide-ranging discussion at a special session of the 14th Caribbean Multi=-National Business Conference in Montego Bay.
And two key international and Caribbean cultural icons, Harry Belafonte, a major stage, television and motion picture actor and singer for at least half of a century, and Prof. Rex Nettleford, Vice Chancellor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies and founder of the Jamaica National Dance Theater Company are to be among panelists discussing the “Business of Art, Culture and Entertainment.”
“The Caribbean has certainly contributed significantly to the world’s cultural landscape in general and music and dance in particular.
The session of the conference that’s being devoted to this aspect of Caribbean life and experience is very important,” said Prof. Nettleford. “Coming at a time when the Caribbean, indeed the world is going through its worst financial and economic crisis in the past 50 years and the countries in our region are bearing the brunt of the fall-out from the global meltdown, cultural and artistic expression as a business takes on added significance.”
Belafonte, a regular participant in the annual conference having attended some of them in Jamaica, the Bahamas and St. Maarten is expected to lead off the discussion, bringing both a Caribbean and international perspective to the session.
“We are very fortunate to have both Belafonte, whose recordings of the 1950s, including such immortal hits as ‘Day-O,’ ‘Jamaica Farewell’ and Island in the Sun became the first million sellers in recording history, and Prof. Nettleford, a prominent academic and cultural force in the Caribbean available to participate in the examination of culture and help point us and the region forward into the second decade of the 21st century,” said Karl Rodney, publisher of Carib News.
In addition, Howard Dobson, Chief of the SchomburgCenter for Research on Black Culture, and Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Olivia Grange, are also expected to participate in the session, Rodney explained.
The conference at the Ritz Carlton resort is expected to attract more than 250 business executives of large and medium-size U.S. and Caribbean firms, entrepreneurs, government representatives and others.
Investment, tourism, manufacturing, health, telecommunications, agriculture, import-export trade, opportunities for two-way trade and travel and hospitality are among the issues on the agenda and table for consideration.
“Essentially, this is a business and investment conference and culture as an economic sector would fit neatly into the program,” said Rodney. “We expect it to be a highly successful, informative and entertaining session.”
By: Tony Best