Sandals Foundation Continues Investment in the Performance Space, Equipment and Facilities at the Alpha School of Music

As part of its continued investment into the sustainable development of music education, skills training and livelihoods, the Sandals Foundation has completed another major round of renovations to significantly enhance the  Alpha Institute’s music programme.

On Monday, April 26, the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International unveiled its support of a signature space for music training and performance for students and visitors. The $2.6 million dollar upgrade also included the construction of a 100-foot walkway, a ‘mild steel’ art installation overlooking the performance space, multi-core audio mixing equipment for live performances and didactic panels that explain Alpha’s role and approach to music education for visitors and students to enjoy.

The facilities will help the world renowned training institution launch its new Associate Degree in Music Performance. This new educational offering will be the first of its kind in Jamaica to focus on ensemble-style performance at a tertiary level.

Heidi Clarke, Executive Director at the Sandals Foundation says the investment is representative of the foundation’s commitment to the sustainable development of Jamaica’s culture and youth.

“Reggae music is really a representation of the true culture of Jamaica and it is also one of the key ways to engage young people who love music. Learning an instrument and understanding the essentials of music opens so many doors and we are extremely happy to be able to help build on that platform which can and has been the vehicle of change for so many youth.”

In recognizing the impact that Alpha has had over the years in nurturing outstanding talents and bands that have impacted the world, the executive director said, “we hope that through our donations, we can help them build their capacity to continue to expand on what they’ve been able to do and further develop Jamaica’s music industry.”

In 2019, the Sandals Foundation constructed a restroom with an artistic flair to improve the capacity of the school to accommodate more students, visitors interested in the widely-respected musical legacy of the school as well as to host fundraising events.

This second phase of improvements will help bring to life the pulsating energy and benefits of live performances for students and music fans alike.

The brand new performance area cements the presence of the late visual artist Michael Thompson, aka ‘Freestylee’: Artist Without Borders, by transforming his iconic 2012 “Alpha Ska” artwork into a sculpture that stands as the backdrop on the stage.

The 20-foot tall installation was created by local artist, Lisa Lindo and will complement the larger than life talents of students who sojourn through the halls of the island’s renowned cultural mecca.

The Sandals Foundation also constructed a 100-foot walkway connecting the performance space to the music classrooms and recording studio. The pathway is aptly adorned with didactic panels and murals to demonstrate the connection between music training and livelihood in the entertainment and tourism industry.

Speaking at the handover, Alpha School of Music Administrator, Margaret Little Wilson, said, “The combined support that Sandals Foundation has provided to renovate the entrance to Lennie Hibbert Hall and the wrap around pathway that leads to this installation is much more than a renovation. The support reflects that critical transition from school to work that is the goal for every student at the Alpha School of Music.”

“We look forward to the day that visitors will return to Alpha to walk this same pathway,” said Little Wilson, “and celebrate the Sisters of Mercy’s unique approach to music education. We are especially grateful to Damian Edmund at Form Architects who made sure the pathway is wheelchair accessible so that we may welcome all students and visitors.”

The Alpha Institute boasts internationally respected trade training in music. One of its long term goals is to create linkages within the tourism industry by connecting its students to sustainable livelihood opportunities.

By working together to create jobs, promote local culture and products within the tourism industry, the Alpha School of Music and Sandals Foundation partnership will help meet targets 8 and 12 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.