06.12.2005 -

Promoting digital preservation of cultural heritage in the Caribbean

UNESCO, within the framework of its Information for All Programme, has organized a series of capacity development activities to promote digital preservation of cultural heritage in the Caribbean.

The first Regional Workshop on Digitization of Cultural Heritage in the Caribbean and Training in UNESCO's Ibero-American Digital Library Software, was organized by UNESCO in collaboration with the ICT4D Jamaica, Human Education Art and Resource Training/National Training Agency (HEART/NTA), International Institute for Communication Development (IICD), and Institute for Connectivity of the Americas (ICA); held 18 - 22 July, 2005 in Jamaica. Over 40 participants from the region participated.


The workshop was designed for Caribbean countries with a view to offering theoretical and practical sessions on topics related to the process of digital preservation and was a follow-up to the Inaugural Caribbean Audio Visual Information Conference (CAVIC), organized by the National Library of Jamaica in collaboration with the International Federation of Television Archives (FIAT/IFTA), the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA), the Caribbean Media Corporation, (CMC), Barbados and UNESCO. Recommendations from CAVIC reflected the need for capacity building in this field in Jamaica and the Caribbean; a Steering Committee to spearhead a formal audiovisual archiving body for CARICOM, the Caribbean Audiovisual Information Network (CAVIN) was also established.


"From the Abeng to the Cellular Phone…" were the words used by Sydney Bartley, the Director of Culture Jamaica, to create an image of the tremendous advances in technology and its cultural impact, during the opening ceremony of the workshop.


A second Regional workshop on Digital Preservation as Means to Protect Caribbean Cultural Heritage held in Antigua, 7-10 November, has contributed to the enhanced capacity of specialists from the region who operate within public, private and NGO entities such as libraries, museums, archives, national cultural commissions, and producers of cultural content, to deal with aspects of the digital preservation and documentation of cultural heritage.


This four-day workshop was organized in collaboration with the University of the West Indies and was attended by 27 representatives from 10 countries within the Caribbean Cluster. These included Jamaica, Belize, Antigua, Cayman, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and Grenada. The Honorable Bertrand Josephs and Honorable Eleston Adams, Ministers of Education and Culture respectively, attended the opening ceremony. Minister Adams launched the workshop and was present for several days during working sessions.


During the Antigua Workshop, a panel discussion was held to discuss the CARICOM Regional Cultural Policy, developed under the aegis of UNESCO - particularly the section on preservation of cultural heritage. Panelist included, Dr. Josephs Palacio and Mr. Dorbrene O'marde (both were instrumental in the development of the Regional Cultural Policy), Professor John Dean, Preservation and Conservation Librarian, Cornell University, and Dr. Ermina Osoba, University of the West Indies Resident Tutor.


These regional workshops on digitization of cultural heritage in the Caribbean, and other planned interventions, will and have provided a platform for not only capacity development in the field of digital preservation of cultural heritage but also debate on the development of a Regional Action Plan to promote and implement concrete activities in the field of digital preservation of culture in the region. A draft document has been developed and being refined for submission to the Ministers and Directors of Culture in the region. The Minister of Culture, Antigua has given his commitment to champion the Draft Action Plan developed.

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