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‘Appreciate cultural heritage’ says Minister Baptiste

‘Appreciate cultural heritage’  says Minister Baptiste

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Vincentians are being urged to recognise and appreciate the contribution that their cultural heritage can make towards economic development.{{more}}

Delivering the third lecture in a series marking Girls’ High School’s centenary, Minister of Culture, Labour and Electoral Matters, René Baptiste, emphasised the role of culture and creative arts in the Vincentian society.

At the event, which was held on Thursday, July 8, 2010, at Frenches House, Baptiste said: “Culture is an available resource in combating inequality and poverty in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

She added: “I have seen the transforming power of culture.”

Baptiste noted that at the 3rd Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture 2006, which she attended in Montreal, the vice president of the International Bank for Development estimated that in Latin American countries, the cultural industry accounts for 3.5 – 4 per cent of the GDP. In Europe, it contributes 5 – 6 per cent of the GDP; and in the United States, 7 – 8 per cent.

Baptiste lamented: “We are yet to take advantage of the dynamism of the creative industry.”

She explained that cultural heritage is not only for the benefit of the economy, but is also for the social good. Reason being, it conveys ideas, symbols and ways of life, said Baptiste.

“Culture comes from the roots of one’s civilisation – the bloodline of one’s heritage,” she noted.

Baptiste also spoke of the wealth of artefacts that have been discovered at the Argyle International Airport site – one being a stone axe, which stirred much interest among archaeologists because it’s the only one intact that has been discovered in the Eastern Caribbean.

She praised the efforts of Dr.Earl Kirby in collecting Vincentian artefacts in the 1960s and 1970s and putting them on display in the modest museum at the Botanic Gardens.

“But this was not sustainable – there was no plan,” the Minister said. “He died and the works began to suffer; artefacts disappeared.”

Baptiste revealed her ministry’s efforts to recover Vincentian artefacts that have ended up in museums across the US and the UK. She announced that she has support from the ALBA Cultural Fund, ambassadors from several Latin American countries, and is seeking additional support from the UNESCO ambassador in France.

With the revival of the SVG National Trust, Baptiste noted that there is now a need to establish a museum to house any recovered artefacts.

“A museum is a mark of civilisation in any society,” she said. (JV)

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