Public input invited on culture and heritage policy

Ministry Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn, Ministry Councilor Roy McTaggart and Deputy Chief Officer Nancy Barnard present a draft policy on preserving Cayman culture.

The Ministry of Health and Culture is inviting the public to comment on a draft plan intended to protect and promote Caymanian culture.

Ministry Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn said the islands have witnessed a cultural reawakening and renewed interested in preserving local traditions, prompting the move toward government action.

Through public consultation, the ministry hopes to define priorities in its 47-page draft document, developed throughout 2016 by a steering committee and six subcommittees comprised of around 70 people.

The draft broadly outlines seven priority areas intended to guide future policy action: access, governance, legislation, knowledge, development, status of the artist and enterprise.

Ministry Councilor Roy McTaggart described the cultural policy as long overdue and necessary, in part, due to the migratory nature of the islands’ population.

“Together, our three islands make up a dynamic society that is constantly evolving and growing. I believe it is important to safeguard the practices of our cultural heritage, which is the backbone and heart of this country, while continuing to support sustainable development,” he said.

The draft was inspired in part by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s recommendations on protecting the status of artists. This portion of the draft suggests creating social protections for artists, such as providing access to healthcare and training opportunities, as well as creating a national artists’ database.

Deputy Chief Officer Nancy Barnard said implementing such goals would depend largely on public input and definition of priority actions.

“It’s like a calling [to be an artist] and they are here to be our artists,” she said.

The ministry held its first open house Tuesday night and has two more sessions planned on each of the Sister Islands on Jan. 19. The Little Cayman meeting will be at the National Trust House from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the Cayman Brac meeting will be at the Aston Rutty Civic Centre from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

A feedback form is also available at the Government Administration Building in George Town.

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