Jamaica Gleaner / The Ashe Company is eyeing expansion as it gets ready to launch a new performing arts and cultural group in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI).
In a collaborative effort with the Ministry of Tourism, Ashe’s executive director, Conroy Wilson, and its artistic director, Michael Holgate, will be taking a group of six trained professionals on the trip to the Turks and Caicos later this month to scout for talent across the island. Wilson told The Sunday Gleaner that Ashe has always had plans to expand, but expressed that the group’s decision to now follow through on those plans comes at a time when Turks and Caicos have also expressed a need to establish a performing arts group within its borders.
“Ashe started out as the Ashe Caribbean Performing Arts Ensemble, and expansion to the Caribbean was always an intention for our founding artistic director, Joe Robinson,” he said. “We are now in a good position for such expansion, having developed the capacity over two decades. It is also good and fitting that the TCI has expressed such a need, so it all works out well.”
He also noted that the TCI was chosen as the first island to start the expansion as ASHE’s founding artistic director, Joe Robinson, was from the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“Turks is very special to us because our co-founder, the late Joseph E. Robinson, is a native of Turks and Caicos, so Ashe is no stranger to the country. It is as if we are going home, so to speak,” Wilson expressed, as he says unlike Jamaica, a void exists in the structure of the performing arts and cultural landscape of the TCI.
“The department has recognised a need for a functioning group similar to that established by Ashe in Jamaica, to perform for school events and deliver other transformative edutainment pieces.”
AUDITION PROCESS Ashe is set to begin the audition process for the formation of the new group on March 28. Auditions are set to start in South Caicos before moving to the other islands; North Caicos, Middle Caicos, Providenciales, and Grand Turk. After the selection process, the new members will be trained in the performing arts as well as edutainment, using Ashe’s EIC (Excitement, Involvement and Commitment) methodology. Training will take place in the TCI.
Following the completion of the audition process, the Ashe performers who made the trip will put on a performance of an original production. It will be the first time that that production will be shown to a live audience anywhere.
ASHE is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and according to Wilson, big things are in store, as the expansion to the Turks and Caicos Islands is only the beginning.