Cultural Policy Consultation encourage public participation

St. Kitts Director of Culture Creighton Pencheon

Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 25, 2011 (SKNIS): Citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis are being encouraged to air their opinions and actively contribute to the discussion phase of the drafting of the St. Kitts and Nevis Cultural Policy.

St. Kitts Director of Culture Creighton Pencheon emphasized the importance of participation during an interview with the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service.

“I think it is very important that all stakeholders in culture participate,” Mr. Pencheon stressed. “Very often we [Government] are accused of coming up with policies and documents and just throwing them on people. Persons very often complain that they don’t get a chance to make an input and so this is an opportunity to grab with both arms and ensure that your concerns, issues, ideas and recommendations are ultimately enshrined in that final document.”

The activities leading to the establishment of the Cultural Policy are being sponsored by UNESCO, which made provisions for Sydney Bartley, Jamaica’s Director of Culture to serve as a consultant to the process.

“What is your vision for St. Kitts in terms of cultural development and then you look at the context of St. Kitts,” Mr. Bartley informed. “It’s not a Jamaican policy, so it must operate within a dynamic space. That context has historical and current definitions. It’s not just about 2011, even though you’re doing it now because its culture and culture develops and works over a period of years. When you come to do it, you still have to go back and see what fashioned St. Kitts. You look at the context, you look at the guidelines and principles that you want to establish.”

Jamaica Director of Culture Sydney Bartley

Director Bartley, who is also the chair of a regional cultural committee consisting of the Directors of Culture of the Caribbean Region and a former member of the International Network of Cultural Policy, noted that it was relevant for him to operate in this advisory capacity, particularly considering that the Caribbean Region is indelibly connected.

“When we say that we are one, it don’t mean that we are the same, some people see one as being the same,” Mr. Bartley explained. “You know like when you married and two of you become one, but you still remain two people. There is a oneness you achieve, you’re trying to achieve as Caribbean people, which does not in any way dilute the need for each Caribbean country to have it’s own character and its own personality. So culture is a very interesting thing because our cultures come together and sometimes they cross-fertilize, sometimes they collide and we find ways to operate. So you find similarities because we have similar experiences but outside of those experiences we can find differences.”

Director Pencheon highlighted some of the benefits of establishing a cultural policy including opportunities for capacity building such as training in the arts, the preservation of the arts and heritage for future generations as well as the determination of who will undertake the management of this preservation. He also proposed that youth can channel their energies into the arts.

“We know that young people gravitate to the arts, especially music, and we need to get them involved in music,” Pencheon emphasized. “Right now we have a programme at the Department of Culture, called Music Mentorship. We are engaging some young men from The Village [Trafalgar] area, St. Peter’s, Newtown and Lodge Village. They love music, so I’m training them and those guys are so engrossed, so involved with their music, that they don’t have any time to pick up a gun.”

The consultations were preceded by the launching of the National Cultural Policy on June 14, 2011 at the Sir Cecil Jacobs Auditorium of the Eastern Central Caribbean Bank, Bird Rock, St. Kitts. Public consultations continue in Nevis on Thursday and Friday and in St. Kitts on Saturday. The Department of Culture can be contacted for schedule details.

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