Draft National Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory List finalized and information session organized

On May 9th and May 18th , 2018, the St. Maarten National Commission for UNESCO and the Department of Culture organized working sessions to review, supplement and finalize the First Draft National ICH Inventory (List) of St. Maarten.

One of the goal of the meetings was for the NGO’s/Non-profits organizations, the Culture Department and the UNESCO Office to deliberate and plan how and what will be done to help preserve, record and revitalize our heritage.

In attendance were representatives from the National Institute of Arts, Helping Hands Foundation (Seniors and Pensioners), Cole Bay Theatre Company, Nature Health Club Foundation, ECO Agriculture /Spaceless Gardens, SXM Our Creations Arts & Crafts Foundation, St. Maarten Museum, SIMARC, Archives Monument Council, Culture Activists in the community, the Culture Department and the UNESCO Office.

It was crucial to have a cross section of heritage experts/professionals, tradition bearers and practitioners at the meeting to ensure these persons/organizations gave their feedback on the St. Maarten’s First National ICH Inventory which is in its finalized stage before being submitted to the Minister of ECYS and the Council of Ministers by July 2018.

The Draft National ICH Inventory (List) of St. Maarten has been compiled after two National Consultations were held in July 2014 and September 2016 respectively. A national survey was conducted in June 2016 where over 230 (two hundred and thirty) persons from the community gave their opinion and examples of St. Maarten’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. Meetings with elders and senior citizens were held, and information gathering sessions with individuals and foundations in the community.

Secretary General of UNESCO, Marcellia Henry is very happy with the progress that has been made and thanks the Culture Department, the ICH Committee, the heritage experts/professionals, elders, and the community for assisting the UNESCO Office and the Culture department with the compiling of this vital information about St. Maarten’s cultural heritage.

Meanwhile, on May 16th, 2018 a meeting with the NGO’s/Non-profits organizations was also organized on how to become a UNESCO affiliated and certified organization for intangible cultural heritage (ICH). Mr. Richenel Ansano, the past director of the National Archaeological Anthropological Memory (NAAM) and a UNESCO ICH facilitator lead and facilitated the session.

Mr. Ansano shared with the NGO’s/Non-profits organizations the role of NGOs in implementing the ICH Convention and discussed how they can benefit from being an accredited NGO affiliated UNESCO. Some of the benefits include the possibility of being called upon to assist with evaluation of ICH nominations to UNESCO and to assistance requests in the framework of the Consultative Body. Another benefit was that these accredited NGOs can engage in international networks, cooperation and exchange, and may be invited to Committee meetings for consultation.

Mr. Richenel Ansano shared that presently there are only two accredited NGOs in the Caribbean Region namely: Centre des musiques et danses traditionnelles et populaires de Guadeloupe and the National Archaeological and Anthropological Memory Management (Curaçao). He thus encouraged the NGO’s/Non-profits organizations to seek out accreditation as too few organizations from the Caribbean Region are UNESCO certified.

A positive outcome of the meeting was the majority of the NGO’s/Non-profits organizations present have agreed to submit forms to UNESCO to become accredited NGOs for intangible culture heritage by July 2018. Other NGOs/Non-profits organizations interested in becoming an UNESCO accredited and afflicted organization can contact Ms. Marcellia Henry, SG-UNESCO at 721-520-3051 or henrymarcellia@gmail.com.