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Dialogue Begins on National Cultural Policy

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Contact: Rose Marie Harris

March 15, 1999 - Dialogue on the implementation of a National Cultural Policy for Saint Lucia is continuing here with many individuals and organisations welcoming the initiative which is being undertaken by the Ministry of Community Development.

Saint Lucia is the only CARCOM country to take up this valiant goal when CARICOM member states were given the challenge some twelve years ago. Saint Lucia urgently undertook the task of formulating this Draft National Draft Policy because of a deep belief by the Ministry of Community Development, that cultural and national development must go hand in hand and that cultural development must not been seen as just a sector of national development but as a fundamental partner.

Community consultation on the policy have been held throughout the island and earlier this week a number of the major stakeholders on culture, came together to dialogue on the issue. During the opening ceremony Chairperson of the National Cultural Policy’s Interim Management Board, Mrs. June King-Frederick indicated that following all the consultations the Interim Board would analyse reports, appropriately revise this document and present the final draft to the Minister of Community Development, Hon. Damian Greaves by mid-April. "We will then set about the task of continuing to develop the structure for implementing this policy." She said.

Speaker after speaker at Tuesday’s session spoke on the importance of such a policy and the benefits which not just Saint Lucia but the island’s many artists will be able to derive from such a holistic national development.

Executive Director of the Saint Lucia National Trust, Mrs. Patricia Charles called for legislation to governing the preservation and protection of Saint Lucia’s artifacts. Over the years the island have lost to foreign countries a number of unique artifacts. This was possible because there was no legislation in place to preserve the island’s patrimony.

Just recently, though government made a decision not to allow a salvage company which wanted to explore Saint Lucia’s shipwreck sites which according to Mrs. Charles was a very significant decision "as we do not have the legislation to protect our what is of great value under water, we need to put legislation in so that we can control what people go in and do, what they take out and what they do with it."

Yet another speaker, Andrian Augier called for a government policy aimed at giving Saint Lucian artists a monopoly for promoting the island’s culture. Augiere says this monopoly would ensure that the expertise and talents of locals, are not used by foreign artists and marketed as their own.

The draft policy highlights the perception among planners, that cultural activity is not economically significant. As a result of this perception, its contribution to the national economy is under rated, despite the evident economic significance of music and festival arts such as carnival. This negative perception, the draft concludes, is reflected in a severe lack of infrastructural and other support, which is govern as a matter of course to the traditional areas of private sector activity.

One urgent matter according to the National Draft Policy is the need to establish a Caribbean Steelband Manufacturing Industry, thus minimising the present trend of exporting Saint Lucians contribution to the arts, to other countries.

When the new draft cultural policy is implemented it will govern the formulation of the National Cultural Foundation meant to replace the Department of Culture.


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