The Reggae Sunsplash Preservation Society was founded by two professors at St. John’s University in Queens, NY in 2015. ProfessorDouglas Green was one of the partners who created the original Sunsplash music festival in Jamaica in 1978. Dr. Cameron Weber is a cultural economist and historian. Douglas negotiatedthe rights to more than 300 professional quality Beta and U-matic films from 1978 to 1994 of Sunsplash performances. The purpose of the project is to preserve, digitize and stream this historic footage. Artists captured on film during this creative period for reggae as an artform include some of the most iconic reggae personalities such asPeter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear, Marcia Griffith, Toots and the Maytals, Yellowman, Gregory Issacs, Third World, Steel Pulse, Dennis Brown, Bob Marley, Ziggy Marley, U-Roy, Black Uhuru, Culture, Freddie Mc Gregor and many others. The project will help preserve and build the legacy of thesefoundational artists that performed on Reggae Sunsplash.
The Society is initially seeking $35,000 in crowd-funding to assist with the start-up of this effort. These funds will go towards website and database development, streaming services and the purchase of hardware and software for digitizing and archiving, as well as the creation of state-of-the-art digitization protocols. We are working with our students to catalog and digitize the film with metadata, and with watermarks to create authenticity value in that many of the Sunsplash performances have been bootlegged with poor quality.Archival protocols for AV digitization have yet to be developed so the project will also contribute towards building “best practices” for professional AV digitization, while simultaneously building social knowledge about the founding artists of reggae music. It is estimated that the total cost of preserving, digitizing and streaming approximately 100 three-song performances, featuring 60 fundamental artistes involved in developing reggae music, will take approximately 4,000 hours; at a total cost of between $150,000 and $300,000 depending on the preservation needs of the source material. We are curating the most historically-significant performances to begin preservation. The society is seeking financing through crowd-sourcing, individual donations and grants.