Historic three-day Heritage Conference opens

Georgetown, GINA, June 7, 2016

The historic three-day Georgetown International Heritage Conference was officially opened yesterday at the Arthur Chung International Conference Centre. It ends on June 08, 2016.

The conference with saw dozens of stakeholders participating, is facilitated by the National Trust of Guyana in collaboration with the World Monuments Fund and intends to boost the heritage sector, particularly the tangible built heritage.

This is a major activity for the Trust as it is part of the agency’s 50th Independence Anniversary schedule of activities.  The conference was official declared open by Prime Minister and First Vice President, Moses Nagamootoo.

Delivering  the feature address, the Prime Minister stated, “Our Government welcomes this Conference not only to share knowledge and expertise to effectively preserve our heritage resources, but to source funding to restore the grace and beauty of our heritage edifices.”

The Prime Minister said that the Government basks in the expectation that one day Georgetown would be counted among the heritage capitals of the world. “It must be restored to its pristine beauty, building by building, block by block, and must lead the way in being transformed into a green and clean capital,” Nagamootoo said.

The Prime Minister committed his Government to supporting all initiatives of the conference. The conference aims to build awareness among the Guyanese people and corporate citizens to join in protecting and preserving monuments and heritage generally.

“Support the thrust by Central Government and Municipalities to safeguard our heritage buildings, sites and monuments and to promote national pride in what we own, in the same way that we have stirred so much pride over things Guyanese during this Golden Jubilee of Independence year,” he said.

Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, said the conference comes at a time when the Government is in the midst of creating and tabling a National Cultural Policy.

“One of my commitments as a projected outcome of a completed policy is, the creation of a mechanism or perhaps the expansion of the remit of the National Trust to focus on preserving our intangible cultural heritage, particular preservation and active use of our indigenous languages,” Dr. Roopnaraine said.

The Minister of Education said that over the next two years and beyond, culture from both policy and programme perspectives will increasing occupy centre stage in the Government of Guyana’s sustainable development plans.

“We will be examining the implications of cultural practices on our interaction with the natural environment in the era of climate change, the role of culture in how we have defined citizenship from the independence movement to now and how we can redefine citizenship in a world of  shifting, almost fluid demographic movement and finally how we integrate culture into our education system so we can instill in our children a sense of value, with regard to rich cultural heritage and the opening of mind to celebrate the resulting diversity.”

Adding her remarks, Minister within the Ministry of Education with responsibility for the Department Culture, Youth and Sport, Nicolette Henry, congratulated the National Trust for bringing the conference to fruition.

Minister Henry said, “We must educate our young generation if we are serious about cultural heritage reform and improvements.”

Henry said that the National Trust Children Heritage Awareness programme is an excellent opportunity and should be strengthened, “as it exposes our young minds to various aspects of Guyanese heritage and provides practical hands-on approach experiences on working with heritage(artifacts).”

Commending the World Monuments Fund for the work done over the years in the United States and around the world, United States Ambassador to Guyana, H.E. Perry Holloway said it is an important forum for all stakeholders to discuss the cultural heritage of Guyana.

“As a US organisation I am particularly proud of the work you do to save the world’s most treasured places.” The US Ambassador called on all those present to do their part in saving the cultural heritage in Guyana and around the world, “if not for you, for your children or grandchildren.”

Programme Director of the World Monuments Fund, Norma Barbacci told the stakeholders to invest in the future by investing in their past.

“We would like to welcome all of you to this exciting conference and encourage you to establish lasting professional relationships across professional disciplines and international borders so we can all be part of a global network working together in the preservation of Guyana’s heritage for the enjoyment of future generations and the world,” Barbacci said.

Briefing the stakeholders on the conference and its importance, Chef Executive Officer of the National Trust, Nirvana Persaud, explained that the conference is taking place during a significant time in Guyana’s history, “the historic 50th independence jubilee celebrations and it offers us an opportune time to reignite discussions about heritage and recommit our efforts towards ensuring it is safeguarded for the benefit of our future generations.”

The CEO further explained that the conference was planned by the National Trust as a boost to the heritage sector, particularly the tangible, built sector as experts would gather to share knowledge and effectively preserve, promote and protect Guyana’s heritage resources.

“The main focus, though not limited to, is on improving the conservation of our tangible built heritage,” she said.

There are seven thematic areas under which presentations would be made over the next three days including; management and policy; history and theory; documentation and conservation; heritage and sustainability; heritage and community; world cultural and natural heritage; and economics of preservation.

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