Barbadians need to be more aware of the rich cultural history that they have, and the UNESCO designation of our Historic Bridgetown And Its Garrison, says Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley.
Speaking on Saturday afternoon in Golden Square, Bridgetown, at the launch of Heritage Month, Lashley suggested those living in The City, especially in Nelson Street, New Orleans and Chapman Lane, needed to be sensitized about the historic areas in which they resided.
“It cannot be overstated that Barbados received this [UNESCO] inscription not solely because of the historic buildings, but mainly because of the social interactions that took place within these 400-year-old streets and the intangible heritage that is reflected in the cultural practices of our forefathers, some of which are still very present today,” Lashley stated.
He added that in that regard the ministry was moving swiftly to finalize plans for the official Bridgetown Arts Festival next year, which would have the arts at its core. The minister said this was all in an effort to once again make Bridgetown a cultural hub.
“It is said that persons from all over the world converge in our . . . city to enjoy our heritage. Unfortunately, the era of Bridgetown as a cultural hub has somewhat dwindled and we believe must be recaptured if the city is . . . to remain sustainable and to thrive,” he said.
“The festival will seek to highlight Historic Bridgetown And Its Garrison and commend the revitalization of the space of Bridgetown to the cultural hub it once was,” he added.
Lashley suggested too that efforts to retain and reserve Barbados’ history had not gone unnoticed by our regional and international colleagues.
“Barbados is now being viewed as a model to follow in terms of the strides we have made in heritage preservation in the last few years in particular.
“UNESCO has congratulated Barbados for its progress and vision in terms of its management structure put in place through the Barbados World Heritage Committee, and this is being seen as a model to emulate. CARICOM is now seeking to promote the Cultural Industries Act as a model within the Caribbean Community,” Lashley said.
He also added there would now be two new heritage programmes by international organizations being hosted in Barbados.
“One of these is the home of the Caribbean Heritage Institute which will be the repository for information and the research on heritage sites, experts, data and the sharing of best practice. This is a two-year project and is being funded by the Organization of American States.
“The other is a certificate and postgraduate certificate in heritage for human and cultural development in training which is being facilitated by the University of Florence in Italy and the Errol Barrow Centre For Creative Imagination,” the minister revealed.
He added that Heritage Month this year would continue to focus on “celebrating and preserving our cultural heritage”.