Festival X participants
(L-R) Joe Bogdanovich, CEO of Downsound Entertainment; Coleen Douglas, Director of Marketing and PR at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts; Scott Dunn, Director of Dream Entertainment; Justine Henzell, Co-founder, Calabash International Literary Arts Festival; Olayinka Jacobs-Bonnick, Country Director at the British Council; and Patrick 'Tony Rebe' Barrett, Founder of Rebel Salute at Festival X.  ©

British Council


The British Council has developed a three-year strategy in the Arts, which focuses on Festivals and Heritage Preservation.  In late 2017, the British Council invited applications for the professional development short course (International Festival Academy) and received 18 applications from local practitioners. Three (3) of the 30 global spaces were allocated to Jamaica and a panel selected three persons to go to the training in Edinburgh in April 2018 (Michael Holgate, Enola Williams and Lesley-Ann Welsh).

In response to the local demand for training in this area, as evidenced by the number of applications, the British Council has partnered with the Entertainment Division of the Ministry of Culture Gender Entertainment and Sport (MCGES) and the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) to cascade the knowledge that was gained to the wider community of festival practitioners across Jamaica. To achieve this, the delegates were provided with presentations from the sessions in the UK to assist them with sharing knowledge on their return.

It was agreed that the first step in assisting to grow the Festival Economy in Jamaica would be through knowledge sharing. The idea of a one-day seminar emerged with a format that mirrored the noted “TedX Talks" and a workshop.  As a major outcome, the seminar’s goal is to unlock the “Festival Experience” through data gathering, knowledge dissemination and proper planning & monitoring. Thus the event name: Festival X.

Key Outcomes:

Data Gathering:         

Through the registration process, a database of Festival organizers and Festivals will be collected thus giving the three planning entities the information needed to provide additional opportunities for networking, collaboration and mentorship between the government, the private sector and these creative entrepreneurs;

Capacity Building:   

Through the presentation of those who received the training in the UK as well as the workshop coaching from experienced Festival Coordinators locally, thus leading to the identification of characteristics, competencies, tools and resources needed to enable more successful festivals in Jamaica.

Legacy Planning:

Through the introduction of the possibility of seed funds from the BC, the participants will be challenged to organize a network of Festival Planners island-wide, thus vitalizing the sector and strengthening the collaborative function of a “Festival Economy.”

Target group:

Festival X targets one hundred Festival organizers within the 14 parishes. Participant recruitment strategies will ensure the list encompasses Festival Managers, Conceptualisers, Mid-Managers, Marketers and persons who are aspiring entrants in the Festival Coordination Industry. An open call will be made for event registration with guided suggestions from both the Entertainment Division and the JCDC. 


The British Council, in partnership with Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment & Sport (MCGES) and the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), is creating an opportunity for the sector to form a new “Thundering Hooves” group to advocate for improvements and sharing of best practices within the Jamaican Festivals sector.

We believe that the ecosystem in Jamaica would benefit from increased collaboration, advocacy and knowledge sharing between sector participants.  The grant is for the best team proposal to use $250,000 in order to:

  • Form a Festival Industry association
  • Gather Festival practitioners at a physical meeting
  • Implement at least one recommendation from this workshop
  • You must have a team including no less than three different festivals

To apply, send an email with your proposal to Jm_bcjamaica@britishcouncil.org by 10 July 2018 and we will announce the winning proposal on 13 July 2018.

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