Tuesday, 11 April 2017

CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK: Terri Salmon + Y.A.R.D Empire; the future of JADA; UWI Chorale in concert

“My speech will be very controversial, because it’s coming from the heart.” So says Terri Salmon, in reference to the strong message she will be delivering to mark the genesis of her not-for-profit entity Y.A.R.D Empire, which stands for Youth for Arts and Recreational Development. Salmon and her team will be hosting a press/media launch on May 31, inside the Phoenix Theatre’s Blue Room, where she plans to challenge stakeholders to play a more vigorous role in mentoring at-risk Jamaican youth. And that’s precisely the core objective of Y.A.R.D Empire – using the performing and visual arts to empower at-risk youth (aged 13-23 years) and rehabilitate them. 

Given financial constraints, Salmon says she hopes sponsors will respond to the mission. “It’s not a big thing; we don’t have the money to do it on a grand scale, but it has to be done properly and it has to achieve its objectives,” the veteran actress and activist tells TALLAWAH, adding that the programme will also be venturing into communities and penal institutions islandwide. “The arts in Jamaica is lacking sponsorship, so I am trying to get sponsors to be aware of what we are doing and come on board.” To get in touch with Salmon and the Y.A.R.D Empire team, email terrisalmon876@gmail.com. 
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What will become of the Jamaica Association of Dramatic Artists (JADA)? According to TALLAWAH sources, the association, which acted as a lobby group for local theatre practitioners, has not been active for well over two years now. In an interview with TALLAWAH, circa 2015, the late Scarlett Beharie told us that she was stepping down as president, with the hope that a successor would be elected. Apparently, that didn’t transpire. So it remains to be seen if the momentum sparked by the recent Women In Theatre Festival and the new-look Actor Boy committee will help breathe some life back into the now-defunct association, which the industry desperately needs. 
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We don’t hear much from them throughout the year, but you can say this for the low-key UWI Chorale: they know how to put on a concert, taking cues from their big sister troupe, the internationally acclaimed University Singers. The chorale’s recent mini concert season, which we caught on its final night, delivered a hyper-rhythmic, soul-stirring blend of cleverly arranged spirituals and gospel jams, Jamaican folk classics and cool modern/contemporary sounds. They have a wonderfully talented leader in Shayn Wright, an exceptional vocalist and multi-instrumentalist who is guiding the flock with a maturity that belies his 20-odd years. Noel Dexter’s legacy is in good hands.






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