Ms. Bernard was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Twenty-Fifth Meeting of the Regional Cultural Committee at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana, 21-23 July, 2017. Ms. Myrna Bernard said the RCC was instrumental in developing a Regional cultural policy in 1994, and noted that the policy still served as a reference document and a model for cultural policies in some Member States where policies are still being developed.
In fact, the vision of the Ideal Caribbean Person, detailed in that document, has served as a foundation to guide many a strategy and conversation on Human Development. The Conference of Heads in 1997 adopted it during their deliberations on HRD; in 2010, the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development CCYD updated and used it as basis for informing the Paramaribo Youth Strategy, and the most recent (2017) Development of the CARICOM HRD 2030 Strategy, has also used that conceptualisation of the Ideal Caribbean Person.
She outlined other achievements of the RCC such as advocacy that led to Regional Governments understanding the need to develop the cultural industries and providing advice on cultural trade matters. She said that a new area of focus for the RCC would be reparations for native genocide and slavery. She said this meeting of the RCC provided an opportunity for reflection and renewal to ensure that national and regional cultural agendas meet the needs of stakeholders.
Ms. Bernard said that the RCC had been at the forefront of the call for the restructuring of the Caribbean Festival of Arts, CARIFESTA, which, according to her, led to the development of a Strategic Plan for the Festival in 2004; the establishment of an Interim Festival Directorate in 2006, and the phased introduction of the main elements of the new CARIFESTA model that emphasises sustainability, more professional development opportunities for artists and better promotion of the event. CARIFESTA XIII will be held in Barbados 17-27 August, 2017 under the theme ‘Asserting our culture, celebrating ourselves’.
“The Community is grateful to the Government of Barbados for hosting and to investing in this quintessentially Caribbean cultural showcase,” she said.
CARIFESTA is the Caribbean Community’s premier art and culture festival since 1972. This roving event attracts artists and culture professionals from over 30 countries in the Region and has been held 12 times across eight Member States. Among the Member States that have hosted this culturally iconic event are: Guyana (1972, 2008), Jamaica (1976), Cuba (1979), Barbados (1981), Trinidad and Tobago (1992, 1995, 2006), St. Kitts and Nevis (2000), Suriname (2003, 2013) and Haiti (2015). The main purpose of this event, which was a mandate of the CARICOM Heads, is to celebrate the arts, foster a vision of Caribbean unity while advancing Caribbean culture regionally and internationally.