Ashe to honour co-founder in Turks

By Sade Gardner
Observer writer

Sunday, September 23, 2018

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Joseph “Joe” Robinson was a man of the people. Even though he hailed from Turks & Caicos soil, Robinson maintained a passion for developing the Jamaican performing arts industry up until his death in 2005. The Ashe Company was a product of this passion he exuded, which he co-founded alongside Paulette Bellamy 25 years ago.

The theatre arts group is staging a performance in his honour in his homeland on October 11.

“More than likely it's going to be in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture of Turks and Caicos,” Ashe's executive director Conroy Wilson told the Jamaica Observer. “We're looking at featuring some of the songs and dances Joe would have choreographed, and we're going to revamp some of those pieces,” he continued.

The event also coincides with Turks and Caicos' heritage month. Though Robinson was the group's artistic director, he is also remembered as a co-founder of Jamaica AIDS Support in 1991 (now Jamaica AIDS Support for Life), writer, counsellor, dance tutor and lecturer. His projects often bridged the gap among education, entertainment and social development. Wilson wants to sustain this at Ashe.

“Age 25 is one of those big years especially to be in the arts. It's something to be proud of,” he said. “Ashe has always been about people with a passion for the creative industry, and we have built a certain kind of standard and level of professionalism that allows us to still be standing. We're sustaining that and leaving an indelible mark on our customers at the same time.”

Ashe has been doing the rounds since January in light of its silver jubilee. This summer the group performed in the Global Youth Village at the 2018 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Ashe will top things off with its annual edutainment festival in November and Gala Experience on December 22. Production for a television series, Chill is also underway.

“It has been an amazing year; we couldn't have asked for it to be better,” he said. “Just us going all over the island and overseas has opened up a lot of networks and opportunities, so a lot of discussions are happening right now. We're also looking at starting the Ashe foundation, so many things are in store.”

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