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(Caribbean Community Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana) Deputy Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite has charged CARICOM Directors of Culture to maintain their role as champions and advocates for the vision of culture in the Region.

Speaking at the Opening of the Sixteenth Meeting of the Regional Cultural Committee (RCC) in Georgetown on Tuesday 17 May, Ambassador Applewhaite stressed the need for the Caribbean to stay on track with the rest of the world in making culture an important element of sustainable development. She urged the RCC to chart the course for the required changes. The DSG told the RCC, “Without that commitment to appreciate, protect and develop our heritage for ourselves and for future generations, we stand to lose the essence of who we are as a people and much of that which has made this Region great, distinctive and respected in the international community.”

Noting that culture is not yet high on the agenda of donor agencies, private sector and some governments, the DSG noted, “CARICOM has been consistent in leading the charge for the mainstreaming of culture in development thinking.” She added, “We believe that our creative industries can assist our countries to develop new, competitive, indigenous and sustainable export industries and build the resilience of Member States while they adjust to the increasingly rapid changes in the global economy.”

Referring to the opportunities that Cricket World Cup 2007 will provide for Caribbean culture, Ambassador Applewhaite told the RCC that their support is important to the success of staging the august event, which should be viewed as a platform for creating “a cultural legacy through sports.”

Over the next two days, the Committee will be engaged in examining issues that relate to culture and Sustainable development, Culture in the Information Society (in preparation for the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) later this year, in November) and culture in the development of the Region.

The Meeting, which is also expected to make recommendations for new strategic directions for the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA), the CARICOM Foundation for Art and Culture and the CARIFORUM Cultural Support Fund, ends Wednesday 18 May.

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