A newly-installed World Heritage Committee has been tasked with a fresh mandate that includes being a key resource on town planning matters and the demolition of historic properties across the country, said Minister of Culture John King.
And the committee is also now expected to advise Government on the renovation of historic buildings, King told the group at its first meeting this morning at the Barbados Defence Force St Ann’s base at the historic Garrison.
King also told the new committee, chaired by environmentalist Steve Devonish, that it must now work hand-in-hand with the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) in selling Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison to the world.
“In the case of marketing – the committee with its solid background in research, is now poised to assist the BTMI in its marketing approach for Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison.
“This level of collaboration gives us the opportunity to properly promote heritage month in hotels across Barbados as well as in regional and international market,” he said.
King came to the meeting with his own priority list for the committee but he insisted that the various entities within the committee must no longer work in silos, as in the past which caused duplication of effort and resources.
He said: ‘The committee must foster a collaborative approach to addressing the challenges being faced, especially within our World Heritage city. The priority list includes: littering, poor lighting, lack of signage, inadequate disposal of garbage and a shortage of cultural activities. It is your responsibility to ensure that these issues are resolved.”
He went even further to publicly instruct the committee chairman to ensure this mandate was carried out.
King declared: “The committee will [also] now be responsible for addressing the maintenance of National Monuments, thus providing critical technical expertise to the National Conservation Commission.”
He suggested the heritage body should put greater emphasis on public education and awareness.
He also outlined a series of projects he said are of great interest to him and on which he wants the committee to work alongside his ministry.
These are the redevelopment of Rock Hall Freedom Village, St Thomas; the development of Newton Burial Ground in Christ Church; revision of the Relics and Antiquities Bill; the restart of the Slave Route Project; the National Heritage Registry of Historic Places and an outreach to the African Continent.
The Culture Minister declared: “Under my ministry, we will be developing a policy for the documentation and preservation of historic properties such as homes of national heroes or persons of national significance.
“This policy would speak to physical restoration where it is deemed appropriate or more intangible recognition through the erection of a plaque for example.”
He said the Government was committed to developing and implementing a heritage policy which must include the adaptive reuse of these buildings.
The Minister applauded the previous committee for its hard work and dedication which he noted has resulted in a greater sensitivity and understanding of what heritage was and the effect it can have on the economy and on the lives of Barbadians.
The launch of the committee coincides with heritage month this month. [email protected]