The National Gallery of Jamaica came alive for the gallery’s Last Sundays programme June 30 which began with Sparrow Martin and the Ska Sonics blessing the place with wonderful music and knowledge. And then,150 people filled the the lower and upper gallery for the International Reggae Poster Contest (IRPC) auction. Benefiting the Alpha Institute School of Music, it was a lively and friendly competition between art, music and development supporters hoping to go home with their favorite poster design. Paperboy JA, the local IRPC print partner, and The Denizen JA,which contributed paintings inspired by the contest, helped to make the event a signature weekend event. All partners are glad to announce proceeds in the amount of JA$412,749.98 will provide financial aid for an Alpha music student next year.
Senior Director of the National Gallery, Jonathan Greenland, said he was particularly pleased. “We don’t have the opportunity to do activities like this very often. I’m glad to see the turnout and it is wonderful to know that the relationship between the International Reggae Poster Contest and Alpha will continue.”
Carolyn Cooper opened the event on behalf of the IRPC. Cooper said the auction could get even bigger. “The turnout and excitement confirms that the poster contest and Alpha are a part of the present and the future. We are all working toward a bigger vision. A vision for a sustainable Alpha Institute and a Reggae Hall of Fame. Collaborations like this are essential.”
Since 2012, the IRPC has been a strong supporter of the The Alpha Institute. The late co-founder, Michael Thompson donated his 2011 poster design which became Alpha’s iconic logo. And Maria Papaefstathiou, his colleague and co-founder, has been tireless with her own service to the school and in helping Alpha connect with new supporters worldwide.
Sister Susan Fraser, whose idea it was to ask Michael Thompson if Alpha could use his image has its logo in 2012, notes the impact the visual arts have made for her students. “I remember when we first started printing tee shirts with Michael’s logo. At the time Alpha was an orphanage and Alpha students were uncomfortable letting people know they lived at Alpha. Students suddenly wanted to wear the shirt with Michael’s design and represent Alpha. In that sense, visual art is still helping to transform the lives of Alpha boys and we always will be grateful for that.”
Douglas Reid, the poster auctioneer and owner of Grosvenor Galleries, was also there in 2012. “I noticed a little different vibe this time around. People came ready to bid this year. The first time we did it, patrons were not sure what to do perhaps. This time, things got started quickly and it was a lot of fun.”
O’Neil Lawrence, Chief Curator at the National Gallery of Jamaica, says the gallery is honoured to have been involved in this fundraising initiative. “We have been able to maintain a close relationship with Alpha since the first Reggae Poster Exhibition and look forward to the future of our association. We have also featured many current and past students of the school’s music programme at our Last Sunday’s openings and it has been a mutually beneficial association. Special thanks to the IRPC and the Alpha Institute for doing their part to make this a success.”