Barbados has been assured of financial and technical support for its heritage initiatives from the world’s most powerful economy.
That backing was pledged this morning by Deputy Head of Mission at the United States Embassy in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Christopher Sandrolini, when he addressed the opening of a three-day meeting of experts on “Expanding the Socio-Economic Potential of Cultural Heritage in the Caribbean”, at Amaryllis Hotel on Hastings, Christ Church.
“I can promise you that the US embassy will remain interested and supportive of this project,” Sandrolini stated in reference to the Cultural Heritage Venture, which would benefit Barbados in its path to develop and protect this aspect of its history.
He said one of his Government’s priorities was the promotion and preservation of cultural heritage, and added:†”The Department of State Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, established by Congress in 2001 for example, provides direct grant support for heritage preservation in developing countries.”
“Proposals must focus on the preservation of sites, objects or traditional forms of expression. We have provided support for the preservation of historic sites, for assessment and preservation of museum collections, archaelogical conservation, preservations of archives and manuscripts, documentation of oral histories, music, language (and) teaching of traditional crafts.”
The American diplomat revealed that this fund had financed more than 30 heritage projects in the Caribbean, and advised Barbados to expose more of its indigenous and unique lifestyles to foreigners, instead of the products and culture of the metropolis.
“Often, efforts made by cultural institutions and governments to preserve historical sites and traditions, sounds, smells, everything that goes along with what forms our culture and our memories, that needs to be identified for our young people growing.
“They have plenty places to go, whether it be parks, museums, birth places of famous people, any kind of thing that tells a story, gives people a chance to say, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that’,” he suggested.
He said things of that nature had been part of his whole life as a foreign service officer travelling the globe.
“And everywhere I go, one of the first things I like to do is, to begin to root myself in a new place, by finding out what it is in that place that constitutes that culture,” added Sandrolini.
He urged Barbados to take the opportunity to expose the thousands of tourists who come here on cruise liners, to a greater number of the local products. He recalled when he first came to Barbados, prominent architectural historian, Professor Henry Fraser took him under his wings and gave him the first window into this country and its culture.
“And it gave me a stronger sense of some of the connections with my own heritage, for example, George Washington House here in Barbados,” recalled the US Deputy Head of Mission. (EJ)