Jamaicans are being encouraged to submit entries for the Jamaica Gospel Song, the Children’s Gospel Song, and the National Festival of the Performing Arts Competitions. Deadline for the 2013 Jamaica Gospel and Children’s Gospel Song Competitions staged by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), will close on Friday, November 30, 2012, while entries for the National Festival of the Performing Arts, which include dance, drama, music, speech and traditional folk forms, will close on January 25, 2013. Entries will be accepted from Jamaican citizens and persons who reside in Jamaica for a period of not less than two years at the closing date for entries. Entry forms for these competitions are available online at: www.jcdc.gov.jm and at the JCDC’s head office at 3-5 Phoenix Avenue, Kingston 10 and parish offices islandwide. Subject Specialist for Music at the JCDC, Gregory Simms, told JIS News that the competitions seek to expose young Jamaicans to the traditional folk forms, folk music and to give them the opportunity to showcase their creative talent and expressions. He said that schools, community groups, churches, youth clubs and social clubs can enter. “We are encouraging all our teachers and community leaders to start preparing for the competition. Get your items ready,” he said, adding that the competitions are the springboard to the annual Independence celebrations in August 2013. Mr. Simms said that participants each year are exposed to a series of workshops addressed by professionals who provide them with the necessary grooming and training. “We target schools, we target community groups, and anybody may come, because it is really open to the public. There is music, dance and traditional folk forms. If you want to learn maypole or to dance gereh and kumina, you can come to these workshops and have fun while learning about your culture,” he added. Mr. Simms emphasised that persons must be prepared to work, once they have signed up to attend the workshops. “We try to make our sessions very interactive, so that they get a hands-on approach in training,” he said.