Take Culture A Bit More Seriously ??? Says Minister Lashley

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Minister of Culture,??Stephen Lashley, makes a point about the nomination process at the press conference.
(C. Pitt/BGIS)

With Barbados receiving the enviable nod over the weekend to have Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison inscribed as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, is hopeful that heritage and culture would now "be taken a bit more seriously".

While addressing a press conference yesterday afternoon after returning from UNESCO’s 35th World Heritage Committee Meeting in Paris, France, Mr. Lashley said:?? "I sometimes feel there is a tendency to see this particular area of economic

activity as being soft, but it is far from a soft area. It is a fast growing area of economic activity. It is the policy of Government to swiftly move towards diversifying our economy and the opportunity for entrepreneurship is something we will spend some time sensitising Barbadians about."

Explaining that there were many steps leading to the process of application for inscription, he pointed out that an expert team from UNESCO visited Barbados to assess the nominated site. After reviewing a number of documents, including a detailed dossier produced by the Barbados World Heritage Committee and a management plan, the International Council for Monuments and Sites concluded it would recommend that Barbados’ nomination be deferred.

However, the Minister stated that given the kind of information and details submitted by his Ministry, it was felt that "there was something inherently wrong" with that recommendation and they set about to "systematically build a case" for this island’s inscription.

"This recommendation for deferral was studied in detail by the experts within the Barbados World Heritage Committee and the relevant personnel within the Ministry and we came to the conclusion that that recommendation was as a result of a misunderstanding of our nomination and, therefore, we set about the task of dissecting every minute detail of that decision with a view to ensuring that Barbados’ position was squarely put before the World Heritage Committee.

"The professional body that reviewed the nomination believed that the built environment in Bridgetown formed the basis for the nomination even though Bridgetown had lost a lot of its historic buildings. That committee also felt that there was no outstanding universal value remaining in Bridgetown. The claim was also made by that committee that the Garrison was no longer in use," Mr. Lashley disclosed.

But, he dismissed the claim as "inaccurate" and revealed that it was later accepted as an error when Barbados provided supplementary information. He pointed out that Barbados submitted 21 errors to UNESCO’s expert group and 14 of them were accepted.

The Minister stressed that an intensive public education programme would be mounted to sensitise Barbadians about the designation. He further promised that a special working group would be convened soon with other Ministries to "strategically set the tone for how we move forward in terms of the benefits to be derived from the development".

Mr. Lashley said Cabinet had already approved the Management Plan for the area and officials would ensure it was properly executed.

saustin@barbados.gov.bb

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