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Forum on culture makes clarion calls

Forum on culture makes clarion calls

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A forum on a cultural policy for St Vincent and the Grenadines and its diaspora,{{more}} held on November 18, at the Friends of Crown Heights Education Centre in New York, has called for some major changes to the cultural landscape.

Among the calls made was the need for a cultural museum in SVG, as well as an annual cultural exhibition, which could coincide with the national Carnival celebrations.

The forum also suggested that Heritage Square be turned into a carnival village during the Carnival season.

The call too was loud and clear for better promotion of local music on our radio stations and at functions and more training for individuals in all aspects of the cultural art form.

Artiste Orande “Bomani” Charles pointed out that anyone can write a calypso and sing, but that doesn’t make them a calypsonian.

He spoke of the need for training to assist these persons, such as training in writing, music and stage presentation. He further urged that this to be placed in the school curriculum. He further encouraged everyone to understand and defend their culture.

The gathering called for the policy to promote SVG as a culture destination, the preservation of historic sites, the naming of a school after Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer and the construction of a monument in his honour, the integration of the Garifuna culture within the overall policy and the need for the policy to transcend politics.

Vincentian poet Leroy “ Chico” Ellis requested that thought be given to the establishment of a “Vincy House” in Brooklyn.

The round table, organised by the Diaspora Committee, heard presentations from a number of individuals, including Jose Franciso Avila, chair of the Garifuna Coalition.

Avila spoke of the Garifunas as the long lost sons and daughters of “Youremei” — St Vincent’s Garifuna name. He pledged the willingness of the coalition to be partners in the cultural development of SVG.

Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture Cecil “Ces” McKie, Consul General Selmon Walters, and chair of the Diaspora Committee Maxwell Haywood, also had their input.

“The government has taken the importance of the diaspora seriously and has responded positively to the request for the Minister of Culture to be present,” Walters said.

He also noted that Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves had made two trips in two weeks to New York to work with Vincentians there. He further urged the gathering to be good ambassadors for SVG and make the nation proud of the art form from which they make their living.

McKie, who made the feature presentation, explained the cultural policy and why it is necessary.

“UNESCO is partnering with the government of SVG to formulate this policy and has solicited the services of a former minister of culture, Rene Baptiste, to assist to this end,” he said.

The minister further reiterated the government’s drive to enhance cultural tourism, the initiation of a cultural night, the use of history in culture, the role of the National Lotteries Authority in culture, marketing of the art form, and copyright issues.

The minister asked the consul general to work with all stakeholders in New York to explore this possibility and present a proposal to the government.

Haywood pledged not to leave any stone unturned to follow up on the suggestions put forward and the actual conclusion of having a cultural policy for SVG with full input from all Vincentians at home and the diaspora.

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