Local Craftsmen and interested community members were invited by the San Pedro House of Culture at the Sunbreeze Hotel Conference Room on Wednesday, August 22, 2012, for the National Cultural Policy Consultation held by National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) in San Pedro Town. The consultation was carried out to identify the linkages between culture and development in order to discuss a national plan which will reflect the desire of Belizeans for the development of culture and the arts in the country.
The consultation took off with an empowering speech by Honorable Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism and Culture, in which he pointed out his ministry’s vision of promoting, protecting, preserving and befitting our culture and art on the island. He stated that he will address a meeting with the education department and schools to ensure that the history, culture and art of Belize is being taught to all students in order to keep the culture alive, respected and appreciated for many years to come.
Our Belizean history, culture, food, art and music are what keep tourists coming to our country,” stated Hon. Heredia. “We need to increase the recognition of culture to benefit the future of all Belizean. How? By working hard and gaining respect, integrity without any disrespect amongst each other; united we can strive for excellence. Everything is our culture – we eat, breathe and live it.”
Very important areas were covered during the consultation, which included Skills and Talents, Culture and History, Language, Cultural and Creative Industries, Performing and Expressive Arts and more. The topic of cultural and creative industries garnered more attention during the meeting because of the talent individuals who were in attendance. Belize is known for having great talent and also the resources in creating impressive souvenirs to remind visitors of the country. The idea brought forward was to start branding products.
“Branding products with a tag stating “made in Belize” has been something we have talked about and is in planning, but for a specific product to be branded it needs to have that quality and trademark for it to get exported,” stated President of the National Institute of Culture & History (NICH), Mrs. Diane Haylock.
“We have all the resources, take what you have and be inventive.” Another great idea that arose was to provide Arts and Crafts activities for the youths by the local craftsmen. This would get the youths out of the streets and learn, appreciate and keep the culture, art and music alive.”
At the end of the consultation members of NICH took back with them the suggestions and point of views from residents of San Pedro to process along with all other information gathered from consultations around the country. The government of Belize, in its 2008 manifesto, pledged to consult with the people of Belize and thereafter develop a National Cultural Policy. This was done because of the realization that the people of Belize provide a rich cultural diversity rarely seen in the world and when combined with Belize’s natural environment, the country may yet be able to enjoy significant social and economic development.