Creative arts possibilities for economic growth – PJ Patterson

Former Jamaica Prime Minister PJ Patterson.
Former Jamaica Prime Minister PJ Patterson.
Associated Press/Santiago Llanquin, file

The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Kingston, Jamaica will be the beneficiary of a philanthropic gesture, a sum of $US2.3 million dollars. At the handover ceremony, on the campus recently, Statesman in Residence and former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Percival James Patterson lauded the late businessman and founder of Island Car Rental Ltd., Michael Campbell for his visionary step to forward his creative art collections to the university for potential and economic development.

In hailing the late donor, for the landmark gesture, the former prime minister said it is as an aspiration, “as Jamaica continues to navigate the challenges of a globalized economy.”

Patterson acknowledged the donation as a beacon and described it as a milestone for the University of the West Indies as the university marks its 75th anniversary in 2024.

During his remarks, the Statesman in Residence commented on the developing potential in the cultural and creative sectors in Jamaica. Mr. Patterson emphasized the possibilities of the collection to ignite a renaissance in the creative economy, underscoring the importance of the arts in the nation’s future development. “Michael Campbell’s collection is not just an assemblage of art; it is a narrative of our nation’s soul, chronicling our trials, triumphs and aspirations,” he remarked.

“The donation of the Michael Campbell art collection to our prestigious University of the West Indies is not just a cultural milestone; it is an economic beacon,” Patterson noted.  He added that the donation also signifies a growing recognition of the creative industries, as the bedrock of Jamaica’s future economy.

The collection, comprising 261 works by 67 Jamaican artists, represents a profound tapestry of the nation’s artistic journey. It covers several decades of arts, capturing the essence of Jamaica’s cultural and social evolution. The oldest piece, Albert Huie’s “Road Workers” done in 1944, anchors the collection. This piece symbolizes the steadfast spirit and resilience of the Jamaican people.

The diverse array of artworks embodies the island’s rich heritage, serving as a source of inspiration for students, scholars, and visitors alike. The integration of the Campbell art collection into the university ‘s curriculum promises to revolutionize academic exploration in the fields of arts and humanities. The Mona School of Business and Management, along with the Social Sciences Department and Faculty of Humanities and Education, are poised to leverage and strategize this resource.

In speaking to two past-students of the University of the West Indies, Arlene Turner, and Anthony Edwards, they see the significance of this donation as an innovative and  exceptional means for the students, and a well needed and welcoming gesture not only for the university itself, but also for Jamaica.

Patterson said that in recent years, Jamaica’s economy has witnessed a transformative shift, with the cultural and creative industries emerging as pivotal forces for economic and innovation growth. He noted also that creative economy accounts for 6.1 percent of global GDP. Patterson said that in Jamaica, the creative sector generated $US2.2 billion during 2022 and 3 percent of direct and indirect employment.

In adding to his comments, PJ Patterson said the Michael Campbell art collection, with its historical depth and cultural significance serves as a springboard for this exciting journey, symbolizing the potential of creativity and innovation to reshape the nation’s economic landscape.