Kingston Creative, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank Lab (IDB Lab) and the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) is introducing a Travel Grant Programme, which will facilitate visits to overseas markets by six creative entrepreneurs between August 2022 and December 2023. This year, three Jamaican creatives will participate in creative fora and festivals in Mexico, Haiti, and Curacao respectively.
The artists participating in this year’s programme are musician Kenardo Ellis and visual artists Anthony Smith and Matthew McCarthy. They will be part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Forum in Querétaro, Mexico, the Kaya Kaya Festival in Curaçao, and the Festi Graffiti Festival in Haiti.
Andrea Dempster Chung, executive director of Kingston Creative, noted that travel is essential for Caribbean artists. “Not only does it give inspiration and foster collaboration, it allows artists to reach new customers. We have a relatively small market in Jamaica for creative services, and it is important that our artists have the opportunity to showcase their talent, export their artwork, and develop strong business connections in other regions of the world. This is a very exciting programme, and a big part of what we are doing is giving creatives access to income-earning opportunities they would not usually get.”
Roots and jazz artiste Kenardo Ellis, artistically known as ‘Ken Ellis’, hails from New Hall District, Manchester, and studied at The Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts. “This is a great opportunity for creatives looking to expand their reach. This integration will bring forth more diverse opportunities to grow our creative culture and foster collective partnership among creatives from various parts of the world. I am more than grateful and honoured to be a part of this initiative.”
Ken has infused his unique sound together with inspirations from Al Green, Ray Charles, Burning Spear, and Bob Marley to create a soul roots style of singing and performing. A former lead singer of the 6Points Band, with which he also played, his contemporary blend of classic soul and reggae has created a unique sound, resonating among both the mature and youthful musical ear.
“The travel grant makes perfect sense for an emerging creative scene like Jamaica,” said Matthew McCarthy. “Kingston Creative understood that people want to connect, and there are many opportunities to do so if things are coordinated well. I’m really grateful for that aspect. The grant helps to make these connections more seamless.” McCarthy is a multimedia and installation artist. His work is influenced by the aesthetics of Jamaican music culture, particularly vintage reggae and dancehall. His appreciation of the visual forms emerging from that sphere has provided a touch point for expressing his messages in a style that feels familiar to his island home of Jamaica.
Anthony ‘Taoszen’ Smith began his career as an external design adviser and consultant for Crowe Global, gaining experience in the design space while establishing himself as a multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary creative. He is a muralist, fine artist, and graphic designer who uses his creative vision and passion for exploring and commenting on philosophies of self, culture, and environment. “I am humbled to be part of Kingston Creative’s first travel grant. It’s an awesome thing to see what a collaboration of aligned values and interests can do for the creative economy at the national level. Great things are in store,” declared Smith, who has worked on some of Jamaica’s largest murals, namely the country’s tallest and highest mural at the Carib Cement factory on silo #10 and the Sabina Park mural.
[Shown above: Matthew McCarthy, Kenardo Ellis, and Anthony ‘Taoszen’ Smith.]