Culture Yard hopes royal visit will spark revival
Donnette Dowe, manager of Trench Town Culture Yard, hopes the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will inspire tourists to start visiting the home of the legend Bob Marley in large groups again.
While she and 40 other persons swept First Street and Collie Smith Drive in preparation for today’s visit of the royal couple at Culture Yard, Dowe told The Gleaner yesterday that visits to the cultural site have fallen significantly since Jamaica’s borders were closed to tourists in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even with the return of flights, Trench Town Culture Yard has still been struggling financially.
“We’re not getting enough visitors ... . The minister of tourism set up this resilient corridor, which Kingston is not included in. Because of that, we’re not having visitors coming here to Kingston, mainly Trench Town, so it’s slow. It’s just since November  things kinda pick up back,” Dowe explained.
She added that some visitors were advised not to visit Trench Town.
“Even the cruise ship that come at Port Royal, I don’t know why is it we don’t have any visitors [at Culture Yard]. One of the tour guys tell me, ‘It’s not that persons won’t come here. The JUTA tour drivers, they’re telling the people not to come here because the place burn down,” she said, adding that she had to call the Tourism Product Development Company to raise the issue.
Dowe is happy that the Prince William and Catherine will visit Culture Yard during their short trip.
“I’m excited about that, that the prince chose to visit our community,” she said, adding that the planned visit has also provided short-term employment for some residents.
“Everybody want work. The little bit a work ya weh we a do, di amount a man come to me fi work,” said Dowe, adding that violence in the area decreases whenever the citizens are not idle but are gainfully employed “because when dem done work and tired, dem gone a dem bed ‘cause dem tired”.
Jerked chicken, soup, peanut and coconut vendors will be at Culture Yard to whet the appetite of the Duke and Duchess.
Prince William is expected to tour Culture Yard and play a game of football in the nearby park.
Tour guide Dorren Johnson is excited about the visit and plans to dance during the entertainment package.
Another tour guide, Kevin Lewis, believes the visit will help to uplift the downtrodden in Trench Town.
“When dem come here, it’s blessing that will elevate the community. [We] just want the strength. That’s the main reason I’m looking forward to them coming here, so we can get strength and build the community,” he said.
Culture Yard, the site of a small museum, has instruments and furnishing used by Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer.
According to the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, Marley was taught to play the guitar by Vincent ‘Tata’ Ford while living in the yard. It was there that No Woman No Cry – one of The Wailers’ smashing hits – was co-written by Marley and Ford.