‘We are not out of the woods’
Grange says 2021 Grand Gala remains a virtual celebration
Jamaica will celebrate 59 years of independence on August 6, and for a second time in the nation’s history, it will be a virtual roster of events.
Speaking to The Gleaner, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport, said that the decision to hold off on physical gathering is partly due to the current state of the pandemic.
“We are not out of the woods with COVID,” said Grange, adding that instead of investing in a grand celebration for 2021, “we put everything into next year”.
The annual Independence Grand Gala, which is held at the National Stadium, was cancelled last year as the country faced setbacks from the global pandemic. Nonetheless, the Government and its stakeholders were able to pull off a virtual show broadcasted live from the National Arena. Queen of Reggae Marcia Griffiths was the Jamaica 58 honouree, highlighted for her contribution to Jamaican culture through her music.
“We decided most of our activities will again be virtual because we have big plans for next year, when we celebrate Jamaica 60,” she said, “because every five years there is a special commemorative milestone.”
While no theme has been announced officially, it is expected to be appropriate to the time.
Minister Grange shared that the Jamaica 60 secretariat for commemorative events is already preparing for the diamond jubilee, which will combine celebrative and legacy projects.
“The unit has a responsibility to oversee projects that were launched but not completed for Jamaica 50 and Jamaica 55, and it is an exciting menu which we will announce at a later date, but it will be massive,” she said.
“We were hoping we could have gone very far in the refurbishing in the National Stadium, but we got a setback in what is a three- (year project) to a five-year project,” Grange added.
The project director for the unit, Lenford Salmon, confirmed that plans are under way for 2022.
“We already have a logo [for next year], which will be revealed after Jamaica 59 to avoid any confusion. But as our minister stated, we do believe there must be several legacy projects to come out and make a significant impact, though they may not be completed for next year, including the National Stadium and a sports museum, among other things,” Salmon said.