The Turn Around Project (TAP) at Work in Jamaica

TAP Participant, Carlton.

Recently I met a Canadian young lady named Tiffany Stull in Kingston who introduced me to an interesting project going on in Portland called the TAP Project. 

The Turn Around Projects of the Arts (TAP) is a not-for-profit organization with the mission to create and maintain integrated arts projects, which promote reciprocal exchange in order to impact and strengthen communities.

At the root of TAP’s conviction is the firm belief that the arts are essential to human development and provide unique opportunities to engage, question and confront issues and relationships in our world.

To date, TAP has executed seven successful programs in four countries (Jamaica, Japan, Canada, India) with over 600 participants from around the world.


The Beginnings

In September 2006, Jamaican-born educator and renowned Dub Poet, Michael St. George was hired by former Professor Jane Leavitt, director of Drama in Education and Society at Brock University in Canada, to teach a class called “Alternative Forms of Theatre”.

The course combined non-western approaches and academic practice while examining socio-political and cultural aesthetics of dub’s dramatization, emphasizing language, research, performance and discussion.

Through the study of dub, students were also introduced to the history, music, and culture of Jamaica. Professor St. George did such an extraordinary job demonstrating the current and historical issues surrounding Jamaica that the students proposed to the Drama Department at Brock University the idea of offering an integrated arts program to youth in Jamaica instead of elementary and high school children in the Niagara region.

The students wanted to turn their new found awareness into action and use the arts as a vehicle for change. The initiative became known as the Turn Around Project (TAP). TAP’s philosophy was to foster positive attitudes, generate change, and bring awareness of alternative ways of thinking – all through the arts.

TAP’s Work in Jamaica

The Pilot Project was held in Portland, Jamaica in July 2007. As a result of vigorous fundraising and a seed grant from Brock University, eighteen students created and implemented a free, two-week integrated arts program, offering workshops in theatre, dance, creative writing, music, arts and crafts, and sports for over one hundred Jamaican participants.

At the end of the Project, TAP made a commitment with the local community to return for 5 years, with the hopes of truly impacting the participants and creating a self-sustaining program.

TAP returned to Jamaica in 2008, 2009 and 2011 to fulfill its commitment to the community and increase the opportunities for the youth.

TAP focused on the inclusion of professional artists and educators from Canada and Jamaica, including but not limited to, Benjy Myaz, Owen “Blakka” Ellis and Nadine McNeil. In 2011, TAP partnered with Manifesto|Jamaica, a local Kingston-based NGO to develop arts programs.

TAP has been recognized by educational institutions, local media such as the Jamaica Gleaner and TVJ, as well as government representatives for its work with the youth of Jamaica.

TAP is now offering its fifth program, completing the commitment set in 2007, with 23 Canadian and 3 Jamaican facilitators from July 11 – 29. TAP has reached over 200 participants from the East coast of the island, ranging in age from 12 to 24.

TAP could not operate without the support of its members, donors and honoured guests.

For more information or to donate your time or resources, please visit

Some of the workshops being offered this year are Hip Hop, Rap, Knitting, Culinary Arts, Face Painting, Guitar, Yoga, Theatre, Contemporary Dance, Creative Writing and Visual Art.

Also this year, TAP willl be trying to incorporate more local artists in this year’s projects; therefore, they have invited Blakka Ellis on Wednesday to run a Gender/Sexuality workshop and a local NGO called Capoeira Alafia who will be doing environmental arts and Capoeira, a Martial Arts dance form on Saturday.

The final showcase will be taking place on Thursday July 26th. This is the chance for participants to highlight the skills they have learned during the two week program to the other participants and their parents, should they decide to come.

For more info on TAP see



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