It has been a dream of many in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize for the island to have its own House of Culture, being the number one tourist destination in the country. But while other destinations in Belize have been boasting their own House of Culture for some time, San Pedro can now offer its visitors and locals a place to showcase true Belizean culture.
The San Pedro House of Culture was inaugurated on Wednesday, November 19, 2014, at its new building located across from the Hon. Louise Sylvestre Sports Complex on Angel Coral Street. Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation and Belize’s National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) were very instrumental in getting the House of Culture up and running.
A short ceremony with keynote addresses from Hon. Manuel Heredia, NICH President Diane Haylock, San Pedro Deputy Mayor Gabriel Nuñez and Councilor Guillermo Mito Paz highlighted the importance of having such a facility on the island. That was followed by entertainment from the Garifuna Council of San Pedro with Jankuno dancers entertaining the gathering as part of also celebrating the national holiday observing Garifuna Settlement Day in Belize. Garifuna food and beverages were highlights of the evening as well.
“The Institute of Archaeology, Institute of Creative Arts, Institute of Cultural and Social Research, the Museum of Belize and the Houses of Culture all fall under NICH and the Ministry of Tourism & Culture, stated Diane Haylock, President of NICH. “Together, these various cultural paths are trying to fulfill the cultural agenda of Belize. I feel honored to be in this position and being part of the inauguration of San Pedro’s House of Culture. It is small, but small can also be beautiful; and there is so much we can say and do with this little space here. And ultimately is not about the building, it's about the people and the cultural life that we lead on a day to day basis.”
Hon. Manuel Heredia indicated that his ministry already has the plans for a much larger building for the House of Culture and aspires to have that project started before his current term as Minister of Tourism and Culture ends. That was his promise to San Pedro, but he expressed that he is very happy with the work in setting up the current facility.
At the helm of the San Pedro Culture Committee is Councilor Mito Paz who stated that their goal is to have the San Pedro House of Culture full of activity all year round as its members know that the community is willing to contribute in its success.
Currently being highlighted at the San Pedro House of Culture are artifacts and information regarding the Garifuna people as the country celebrates their heritage and contribution to culture in Belize. The national holiday of Garifuna Settlement Day was observed on November 19. Other displays include Maya artifacts and information on San Pedro’s Marco Gonzalez archaeological site, a photographic display of San Pedro as a small fishing village, local paintings and a display of an old San Pedro village kitchen.
A schedule of opening hours for the House of Culture will be posted soon, but the facility is open to the public for everyone to enjoy and learn from. The facility was created to preserve protect and promote cultural activities. Follow the San Pedro House of Culture Facebook Page to keep updated with upcoming events and activities or contact by Email: [email protected]; Phone: 226-4531 / 663-2865;
The Houses of Culture (HOCs) are located around the country and feature activities meant to inspire and uplift through culture. The HOCs are envisioned as dynamic, creative community centers where neighbors, residents and students can come together to learn, teach and pursue their favorite cultural activity.
Additionally, H.O.C. will work with children, youth, adults, and senior citizens as well as with the physically impaired, in the fields of music, literature, dance, drama and the plastic arts. H.O.C. will conduct activities at health center, disability centers, and homes for children and senior citizens using schools as the most important center. Activities at the House of Culture are meant to inspire and uplift all through the various cultural areas.
San Pedro is the sixth location to open a House of Culture in Belize, including the Government House/Belize City House of Culture, at Banquitas, Benque Viejo del Carmen, San Ignacio/Santa Elena and Corozal. Plans are to open at three different locations.