Saturday, 20 June 2015

THE TALLAWAH INTERVIEW: Enola Williams on making Kingston on the Edge a festival with a purpose

TALENT SHOW: Each year the cultural showcase delivers a diverse and satisfying  range of arts-based offerings. Inset: Williams.

Ten days. 34 events. 300+ artists. This year, the team behind Kingston on the Edge – led by pint-sized dynamo Enola Williams – is pulling out all the stops to make the 2015 staging of Kingston on the Edge the most memorable in the festival’s eight-year history. Started in 2007 by a group of friends, as an initiative to showcase the work of talented and unsung artists (particularly the younger set) in city Kingston, KOTE has morphed into a cultural juggernaut that delivers a diverse and very expansive range of offerings (exhibitions, artist talks, live music, performance art) while reinforcing the idea of Jamaica’s capital as the cultural mecca of the region. TALLAWAH has a chat with Williams to find out what’s new for KOTE 2015 – and the plans for improving on a winning formula.

TALLAWAH: Year after year, KOTE pulls off the massive feat of capturing the public imagination for an entire week with dozens of arts-based events at dozens of participating venues across the capital. How do you guys achieve that repeatedly – and with such finesse?
Enola Williams: We have a very strong team, and we have been fortunate to have great artists to collaborate with, and together we work very hard to make Kingston on the Edge the success that it is every year. Kingston gets a bad rap in the international spotlight so we wanted to use the arts to showcase a lot of the positive things that are happening here. There is definitely an energy and a buzz that surrounds KOTE each year, and the city gets a very cosmopolitan feel. And that’s very important to us.

TALLAWAH: This year you’re exploring the theme of “Transitions”.
E.W.: The main idea is showing the transference of technique from teacher to students. So, for example, this year we’ve invited Barrington Watson to participate in a session in which he will work with two of his students before an audience. There’s also the idea of transition in the field of music, so we’ll have an event at Skyline featuring the singer Kelissa and her dad – and just to explore what our younger generations are doing with the music. There’s also the life-to-death transition, so we’ll be doing a Peter Dean Rickards tribute through a documentary presentation. And lots more. 

TALLAWAH: A lot of folks are of the view that the creative industries, the arts in general, continue to languish due to a lack of support from corporate Jamaica. Your thoughts. 
E.W.: I think what’s important is that people who do believe in the creative industries supports things like Kingston on the Edge. This year we have Wata, Atlas Security, the Gleaner and others supporting us. And we ourselves are partnering with other entities to make the festival a reality. So it’s important that those who want to support do so because KOTE is about showcasing the arts in the culture capital of the Caribbean and expanding the accessibility of art to everyone.

TALLAWAH: How do you feel about getting schools at the secondary level involved in Kingston on the Edge? 
E.W.: Sure, we’re open to that. In the past we’ve collaborated with institutions like the Edna Manley College, and this year UTech has come on board. And we have done things at different schools across Kingston over the years. But we want to do more, get more schools involved, but we’re taking it one step at a time. 

TALLAWAH: What will the Kingston on the Edge experience be like 10 years from now? 
E.W.: We’re hoping that it will continue exploring art in all its different forms. We want people to be as creative as possible and to think more and more outside the box. I’d love to see KOTE become a festival that attracts people from around the world to come and see what our artists are doing and the more positive side of Kingston. We want to see more of our artists collaborating with other artists internationally, so we can continue to have that open dialogue. 

> For more info on this year’s KOTE activities – and to see the complete schedule – visit kingstonontheedge.org.




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