For 20 years, the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund has been assisting Jamaican writers in highlighting the nation’s historical and cultural achievements.
Through the Fund’s Policy on Literary Works, documentaries, biographies and autobiographies of celebrated Jamaicans, works on parishes and places of historical significance have received support.
Fifteen per cent of the Fund’s resources are channelled towards projects that lead to the improvement of libraries, archives and documentation facilities, restoring and maintaining the country’s historic sites and monuments, and supporting the publication and distribution of books.
Literary works supported by CHASE span education, history, literature, poetry, art and digital records.
Project Monitoring Officer for Arts and Culture at the CHASE Fund, Alain Williams, tells JIS News that, to date, more than 100 publications have been funded.
Publications Supported Through the CHASE Fund
“We view the publication of books in a broader sense as being contributors to the body of work available to the Jamaican population. There are things related to our leaders and founding fathers, and for most countries, developed and otherwise across the world, it is a huge part of the repository of the knowledge of those societies. We believe it is important to have these works captured, documented and made available to current and future generations,” he says.
Mr Williams notes that projects are selected for funding based on the agency’s focus and the proposals submitted.
“After a proposal is submitted, from there, it would be assessed in terms of relevance, and again, that would take into account some of the thematic areas covered under the policy. We would look at it in terms of quality, readiness and marketability. To be guided on much of these, we do have external persons whom we call on to review manuscripts and provide their opinion as it relates to those areas which will help to come to a final decision,” he explains.
An Anthology – 100+ Voices For Miss Lou
The most recent publication to benefit under CHASE Fund’s Policy on Literary Works is ‘100+ Voices for Miss Lou, Poetry Tributes, Interviews, and Essays, edited by Professor Opal Adisa.
Done in collaboration with the University of the West Indies Press (UWI Press), the collection recognises the outstanding contribution of the celebrated literary icon and historian Louise Bennett Coverley.
The book also formed part of the One Hundred Days of Celebration to mark the 100th birthday of the Rt. Hon. Dr Louise Bennett Coverley, which was initiated in 2019.
The CHASE Fund approved funding of $1 million in October 2019 for the editing, publication and launch of the anthology.
Acting General Manager at UWI Press, Nadine Buckland, who was present at the handover of the anthology in March, lauds the CHASE Fund for its support in making the collection a reality.
“The production of this impressive collection with contributions by over 100 great cultural influencers, former heads of State, professors, and other literary and creative luminaries was made possible by the kind support of the CHASE Fund. We commend the CHASE Fund for seeing the value of bringing this vital work to the public and recognising the contributors’ role in creating a remarkable collection,” she says.
Editor, Professor Opal Adisa notes that working on the project was a pleasure, and she is “thrilled with the final product”.
“I love the volume, and more importantly, I believe Miss Lou would be pleased with the inclusive diversity and see this confirmation that she was so loved and positively impacted and influenced so many. There is still so much more that needs to be done on Miss Lou, and I am prepared to go further and produce a documentary using this anthology as a springboard,” she expresses.
Upcoming publications being funded by CHASE include ‘Once Upon a Jamaica’, a photo book capturing the works of the late Herbie Gordon, done by Maxine Brown.
Other publications supported by CHASE include ‘A Biography of Alexander Bustamante’ by Ken Jones; ‘Jamaica at the Wicket’ an examination of cricket in the Jamaican society by Arnold Bertram; ‘The Rise and Fall of Falmouth’ by Carey Robinson and ‘Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage’ by Olive Senior.