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Junkanoo As A Business
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Posted by:Jul 7th 2004, 08:10:42 pm
Fig Tree News TeamThe Junkanoo industry?
JCB could enhance Junkanoo as a business

By Raymond Kongwa, Nassau Guardian Staff
7 July 2004

Over the years, Junkanoo has provided countless Bahamians with a medium by which to showcase dance, music, art and general creativity that would likely otherwise remain unexpressed.

However, Junkanoos (the participants) have sought a greater impact for Junkanoo in terms of economics and industry.

Prominent Bahamian architect, artist and Junkanoo Jackson Burnside told The Guardian that he feels this desired impact will be one of the eventual benefits derived from a recently formed company. Speaking during an interview at his Village Road studio on Tuesday, Mr Burnside likened the establishment of The Junkanoo Corporation of the Bahamas (JCB) to the country attaining independence.

"In 1973 there were some persons who felt independence in The Bahamas was very a unattainable plan" he said, adding that some persons packed up and left having no confidence in Bahamians ability to chart their own destiny. "But 31 years later history proves that not only have we survived, but we have grown," he added.

Mr Burnside said in the same way, the JCB is now establishing a kind of independence for Junkanoo.

"I would like to believe it's the interdependence of the Junkanoo, because the Junkanoo will continue to depend on the government, spectators and fans who continue to be our market," he said. But rather than bringing only the parade to the market, Mr Burnside said Junkanoos will now also concentrate on other revenue streams. "Real revenue streams that we can establish in industry, education, entertainment, and social institutions in our country."

The various skills Bahamian artists have acquired during their involvement with Junkanoo, could serve as foundation for the development of an industry that could express itself in film, theater, cable productions, Internet productions andother mediums, he said.

"Not only will Bahamians have the technical skills as they go out to other places in the world and receive training to bring back to The Bahamas," he continued "but we will have a well rounded and grounded soul which is Bahamian." It is that soul, when expressed, that will provide new and exciting products for the market in the 21st century he added.

Mr Burnside said he envisioned the Junkanoo becoming so acclaimed globally, that "when a young Bahamian goes to Japan and says he is a Junkanoo, he will automatically be looked on with awe," because he must be good in mathematics, art, music, dance and other disciplines to be a good Junkanoo.

Similarly, photographer, artist and Junkanoo Anthony Morley said he would be satisfied to see the day when a student tells his parents, "I want to grow up to be a Junkanoo technician." He added that he also saw the new developments in the Junkanoo leading to new industrial and economic opportunities.

"Firstly I see industry. I see the manufacturing and weaving of yarns and fabric. I see thousands of yards of fabric with Junkanoo designs, patterns etc., [spreading] the spirit of The Bahamas," he said. Mr Morley said he also envisioned the Junkanoo reaching the level where it positively impacted crime, through the launch of craft havens, which would employ youth who are labelled as unemployable, and prone to crime.

He said realisation of the JCB was the coming together of the best Junkanoos in the world and that he would be excited to see the energy that would be created. Mr Morley said he was also confident that the acrimony and controversy that frequently surrounds the Junkanoo will be a thing of the past. "If you have Junkanoo people put in place the [system] by which they are to be judged, it will be better," he said.

Both Messrs. Morley and Burnside said it was important to note that the JCB is in the infancy phase of a very complex process, which would require patience as it progressed. Mr Burnside said to feel at this stage, or at any other, that government could be excluded was an error. He said the Junkanoo had received "a window of opportunity," in having both the Prime Minister and Minister responsible for the Junkanoo as Junkanoos themselves. He said the role of government would be even more important in developing the Junkanoo as an industry and as a part of overall nation building.

The Guardian reported the formation of the JCB in its June 30th edition. In that report Minister responsible for Junkanoo Mr Neville Wisdom said the formation of the corporation "signals something big in The Bahamas." He said one important aspect of the development was that it moved Junkanoo "from the hands of the government to the hands of the people," but warned there would challenges ahead.

Acting JCB chairman Arthur Gibson said the corporation launch had brought about a new sense of unity among Junkanoos. He said that unity would be displayed at the upcoming Independence Junkanoo parade. "We plan to celebrate Independence as never before, through Junkanoo," he was quoted as saying.

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