The Government of the Netherlands Supports the UNESCO Project “The Protection and Promotion of Rock Art in the Lautém District”, Officially Opened on Thursday the 1st of May 2014, Tutuala, Timor-Leste
The official opening of the rock art exhibition and interpretation signage as part of the “The Protection and Promotion of Rock Art in the Lautém District”, took place on Thursday the 1st of May 2014, in Tutuala village, Lautém District, Timor-Leste. The event was attended by over 50 people including members of parliament, national and regional officials, representatives of UNESCO, NGOs and community members.
Tutuala, in the district of Lautém, contains one of the richest regions of rock art in Island Southeast Asia. Most of this cultural heritage occurs within the Nino Konis Santana National Park, which was established in 2007. The rock art sites of this region are of national and international significance and have the potential for a possible future UNESCO World Heritage nomination.
In this regard, thanks to financial support from the Government of the Netherlands, the State Secretariat of Arts and Culture (SSAC) under the Ministry of Tourism, UNESCO, the NGO Many Hands International and communities in Tutuala, Lautém District have been working closely together in order to classify, preserve and promote this important heritage, which may contribute to the sustainable development of creative industries and cultural tourism in the region.
The project has produced a number of significant results including the creation of information signs that have been placed at rock art sites in the Nino Konis Santana National Park to explain the significance of the sites to visitors as well as an exhibition that is displayed at the inaugurated Lospalos Cultural Centre.
In her speech at the opening of the event H.E Ms. Maria Isabel de Jesus Ximenes, the Secretary of State for Arts and Culture, Ministry of Tourism of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, emphasized that “the rock art in the Nino Konis Santana National Park – and the sites where they are located – are not just static cultural heritage, they are also an integral part of contemporary practice and with appropriate community consultation and shared management, and they may assist in the establishment of sustainable economies in cultural tourism”.
The Head of Culture Unit, of the UNESCO Jakarta Office, outlined in his remarks that “Through natural and cultural heritage, eco- and cultural tourism, creative industries and various forms of artistic expressions, World Heritage can serve as a powerful engine for economic development, social stability and environmental protection. In this regard UNESCO commends the Government of Timor-Leste in its efforts to safeguard the rich heritage of Timor-Leste whilst creating opportunities for sustainable development and encourages the government to continue this work through the ratification of the 1972 World Heritage Convention.”
On the same day, UNESCO was invited to attend the inauguration of the Lospalos Cultural Centre that was officially opened by the Minister of Tourism, H.E Francisco Kalbuadi Lay. The Cultural Centre was funded by the Government of Timor-Leste and is the first of a set of District Cultural Centres that the Secretariat of State of Arts and Culture and the Ministry of Tourism intend to develop over the coming years in each of the 13 districts of the country. Secretariat of State of Arts and Culture has worked with the NGO Many Hands International and community members to create this first centre.
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