(CNS): One of the driving forces behind the government’s push to adopt a formal cultural policy has been the increased community awareness that many of Cayman’s traditions, arts, crafts and heritage are disappearing. With the beginning of a public consultation period on a proposed policy document, government officials have pointed out that the country needs a formal policy to guide how it will fund, support and protect the culture and heritage that underpins the nation and makes Cayman what it is.
At a press conference Tuesday, ministry officials urged the community to read the policy documents and make their voices heard to ensure that government is heading in the right direction.
Acting Culture Minister Roy McTaggart, standing in for the premier who is still recovery from surgery, said the policy was about the principles and objectives that would help to foster, support, preserve and develop culture, as he urged people to engage in the consultation.
“We want to get it right,” he added.
From how government funds the protection of the dwindling built heritage and history, such as traditional Caymanian homes and important buildings like the Mission House, to the preservation of disappearing crafts like thatching, the government wants to strike a balance with the modernisation of the culture, which is not just about history.
Nancy Bernard, the deputy chief officer in the ministry that has responsibility for culture, explained that one of main reasons for the urgency in developing a policy, aside from the fact that there is an absence of any government policy on local culture, is to do with the massive changes the islands have witnessed in recent years.
The Cayman Islands is now number four in world for net migration, she noted and said the country needed to be sensitive to what it means to be Caymanian. She pointed out that some 40% of Caymanians have a shared heritage, as they may have been born here but their parents came from elsewhere.
But Bernard pointed out that the participation of multi-generational Caymanians was an important part of this consultation process.
Chief Officer Jenifer Ahearn told reporters at the briefing that the policy would provide greater opportunities to promote traditional heritage and to take a step back and identify what made Cayman what it is, so that in the haze of the rapid development in recent years, the people don’t lose touch or sight of that.
See full press briefing below and visit the ministry website to see the policy document and details about the consultation.