UNESCO Culture Consultant Kris Rampersad conducted a two day workshop for UNESCO, cultural policy-makers, and related interest groups from the Caribbean on the UNESCO Cultural Diversity Programming Lens (CDPL) in Grenada. She explained that the Caribbean is not making adequate use of international spaces where it can lobby for more significant representation of the region’s assets, such as its culture. Rampersad also warned against formulating cultural policies that may not be relevant to national and regional realities, saying that there is a delicate balance that must be maintained between the intrinsic value of culture and the economic potential of cultural products.
Rampersad stated that “The Caribbean has much to offer the international community when it comes to our experiences of migration, adaptation, globalization, multiculturalism, cultural identities and evolution of old and the creation of new cultures.” She noted that the Caribbean has “a record of achievement of social cohesion from its cultural diversity.” However, she said, much of these Caribbean achievements and advances have not factored into the drafting of international instruments as the UNESCO Culture Conventions, and the discourse that has since arisen surrounding diversity, and protection and conservation of cultural heritage and assets.
Rampersad said the CPDL can help the region assess the value of these contributions. She pointed out that only six Caribbean countries to date have ratified the UNESCO Convention on cultural diversity, but there is now a “mad scramble” to do because of the launch of the Fund for Cultural Diversity which is only accessible by countries that have ratified the Convention. She stressed that Caribbean countries should ratify the Cultural Diversity and other conventions, but must do so with a clear purpose and an awareness of how cultural policies can “adequately reflect Caribbean experiences and are more relevant to Caribbean realities.”
Kris Rampersad is a media, cultural and literary consultant living in Trinidad and Tobago. She holds a PhD in literature from the University of the West Indies-St. Augustine. She was the founder of the Trinidad Theatre Workshop Fund for Literature, Drama and Film and a founding member of the Friends of Mr. Biswas (Literary Restoration) Committee and the Commonwealth Film Fund.
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