08.05.2019 -

Project Launched to Support Safeguarding of the St. Kitts and Nevis’ Intangible Cultural Heritage

UNESCO

The Project “Strengthening Inventory Preparation Capacity for Implementing 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in St. Kitts and Nevis” was officially launched on April 29 2019 at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

This 2-year project (2019 to 2021) that is jointly implemented by the Saint Kitts Department of Culture, the Saint Kitts and Nevis National Commission for UNESCO and the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean, aims at strengthening national inventorying capacities with a view to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in Saint Kitts and Nevis.

During the launching, the Secretary General of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Commission for UNESCO, Antonio Maynard, stated that the initiative is “one of the most significant interventions yet made by UNESCO to St. Kitts and Nevis over the past 15 years or so,” adding that not only has UNESCO in this instance provided St. Kitts and Nevis through the Department of Culture with over EC$260,000, but it has also made available simultaneously a vast amount of cutting edge technical expertise that is now accessible from within the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention to which St. Kitts and Nevis is a signatory.

He urged all stakeholders, especially the Department of Culture and its Nevis counterparts, to spare no effort to ensure the efficient and timely implementation of the project. “This is definitely a most proficient opportunity for us to develop the necessary accompanying, robust infrastructure in order to properly document, protect, preserve and promote our intangible cultural heritage inventory,” said Mr. Maynard. “Our intangible cultural heritage characterizes the very fabric of our society, defining or social behavior and manifests itself in our day-to-day activities, especially in our festivals, carnivals and our many events that are held on St. Kitts and Nevis periodically.”

Yuri Peshkov, Programme Specialist for Culture of the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean, congratulated St. Kitts and Nevis on being the first in the English-speaking Caribbean to successfully apply and get support from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund. “Living heritage is an important asset and driving force for economic development of communities, encompassing diverse range of activities of monetary and non-monetary value, which can help strengthen local economies in particular,” said Yuri Peshkov.

The sustainable safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in the Caribbean seats is very crucial particularly in identifying the traditional knowledge practices and strategies related to natural disasters and the effects of climate change as well as how these activities can be integrated into reducing disaster risks and adopting actions for climate change,” he said.

The first 5-days national capacity-building workshop for implementation of the Convention at the national level took place with 25 cultural stakeholders and members of the SKN ICH Organizing Team: St. Kitts Department of Culture-Research and Documentation Unit, Nevis Historical and Conservation Society, and Nevis Cultural Development Foundation. Mr Nigel Encalada, certified facilitator for the capacity-building programme of the 2003 Convention, conducted the workshop.

Due to the combined situation of knowledge bearers growing old and, in some cases, passing away without transmitting their knowledge, the survival of cultural traditions that have contributed to the country’s national identity is threatened. In this context, the proposed project aims to build awareness about the 2003 Convention and the current state of living heritage in the country, enhance capacities to properly document and inventory it, identify elements in need of urgent safeguarding, and provide educational materials for practitioners and communities concerned.

Key activities of the project include conducting national and community-level workshops to raise awareness about the Convention and on community-based inventorying; completing a pilot inventorying exercise on living heritage elements recognized by the communities; and carrying out a national media campaign to raise awareness about the Convention. The project is also expected to help expand, reinforce and amend existing safeguarding measures, where necessary.

 




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