The Ocho Rios Craft Council speaking with one voice
Having been in operation for 12 years, the Ocho Rios Craft Council (ORCC) has been doing its rounds to ensure the growth and sustainability of the craft sector.
Devon Mitchell, president of the council for the past seven years, is the driving force behind its initiatives and purpose. The main function of the council is to act as a link between the major craft markets in the parish of St Ann to the Ministry of Tourism and, more widely, the Government of Jamaica.
The council's executive body consists of 25 members who come from the executive bodies of several craft markets that the council governs. Those that are registered include Coconut Grove Craft Market, Pineapple Craft Market, Ocho Rios Craft Market, Olde Craft Market of Ocho Rios, and Dunn's River Craft Traders Market Association.
Excluding the executive members, the other members who make up the Ocho Rios Craft Council are vendors across the above-mentioned craft markets. However, the council is open to receiving persons who would like to seek independent membership by an application process which is concluded with the executive body holding the right to accept or decline such application.
To further emphasise what the core focus of the Ocho Rios Craft Council is, Mitchell states, "Simply put, the Ocho Rios Craft Council was established because it was evident that it is important to speak with one voice." The president of the ORCC has the opportunity to sit on the board of the Craft Association of Jamaica. This board provides the opportunity for the development of a central body to coordinate the development of the craft sector.
Acting as that 'one voice' for the Ocho Rios Craft Council, Mitchell states they are hoping to cement the fact that the craft sector is a viable, one and with greater support from the Government and surrounding business communities it will thrive. It is his hope that like any other sector which has a representative in the Houses of Parliament, the craft sector will also have one. Until then, the council will keep lobbying for support in cash and kind from the different businesses and the Government.
Mitchell, who is also the president of the Dunn's River Craft Traders Market Association, states that the Ocho Rios Craft Council is in the process of taking steps to improve the quality of their members. They are looking to streamline the organisation by ensuring member benefits to facilitate insurance coverage, pension fees, NHT benefits and the like.
"The craft sector, especially in Ocho Rios, is still very much alive. We refrain from being continuously stigmatised and we will continue to protect the well-being of the visitors," is the response given by Devon Mitchell to the question: what would the Ocho Rios craft sector like the public to know?
For more information on the Ocho Rios Craft Council, contact Devon Mitchell at 844-8550. Contributed by the Community Awareness Department Tourism Product Development Company Ltd. Contact:Arlene.McKenzie@tpdco.org.