Minister with responsibility for Culture, Senator Dr. Shantal Munro-Knight, speaking at the official launch of Heritage Month at the Barbados Synagogue and Heritage District, Synagogue Lane, The City, last night. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Government will be offering an annual award for restoration to stimulate a culture of renovation and conservation of heritage sites in Barbados.

Minister with responsibility for Culture, Senator Dr. Shantal Munro-Knight made the announcement recently as she hailed the Jewish Synagogue as an excellent example of restoration that was “sympathetic to the history of the site”.

Her comments came during the official launch of the Heritage Month at the Barbados Synagogue and Heritage District, Synagogue Lane, The City, last night.

She stated: “Our focus in the coming year is to work with our stakeholders to revitalise various historic sites across Barbados, including historic Bridgetown and its Garrison and to better engage with our heritage stakeholders to build a vibrant sector that can contribute to national development. We will pay special attention to engage [with the] youth to ensure that they see heritage as a viable career…”

The Culture Minister told her audience that preserving the island’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage was not an easy task and shared that the sector had been “dealt a heavy blow” from the disasters impacting the island that saw a closure of all heritage sites and attractions, job losses, damage to the natural heritage and infrastructure of some historic sites from Hurricane Elsa and the ashfall.

These events, Senator Munro-Knight noted, called for a reassessment of how the island’s tangible and intangible sites are restored and the mechanisms put in place to ensure their survival for future generations.

“The theme proposed by UNESCO in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the World Heritage Convention, World Heritage: The Next 50 Years provides a moment for careful and critical reflection so that we can plan for a more sustainable heritage sector,” she stated.

The Minister continued: “It is indeed appropriate for Barbados, as a Small Island Developing State, to reassess the benefits of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Heritage; to question how we are fulfilling the objectives of the Convention and to further deliberate on how we treat to local heritage and to foresee the future of heritage development in general.”

She proffered the view that with Barbados’ transition to a parliamentary republic heritage was the vehicle to place Barbados on the world map and mentioned projects such as the redevelopment of Golden Square, the Fairchild Street Market, Phase 3 of the Careenage Development Project and improvements at Queen’s Park, as tangible examples of the continued improvements to The City scape and livability of Historic Bridgetown.

Outside of The City, Senator Dr. Munro-Knight alluded to plans to transform Bridgetown into a smart hub; make Speightstown as a heritage, artistic and culinary centre, Holetown as a tourism and entertainment centre, Oistins as the epicentre of Barbados’ fishing industry; noting that the Reclaiming our Atlantic Destiny and the ongoing digitisation of historic records were additional means of preserving our history.

During the event a number of businesses received awards for their entrepreneurial exploits in the sector.  They are: Deborah Grant, Chattle House Audio Tours; Peter Stevens and James Blades, Garrison Consortium; Christopher Foster, Lickrish Tours; Heritage Tours; Dawn Lisa Callender-Smith, Characters of Bridgetown; and Heritage Teas.

Heritage Month runs from June 1 to 30.

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