ICH Committee begins phase 2 of National Inventory

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PHILIPSBURG – The Department of Culture and the St. Maarten National Commission (NatCom) for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) within the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (ECYS), has begun phase two of the St. Maarten National Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Inventory.

An ICH Inventory is the process of identifying and recording a country’s “living” ICH as manifested through the five domains in the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the ICH: (a) oral traditions and expressions; (b) performing arts; (c) social practices, rituals and festive events; (d) knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe and (e) traditional craftsmanship.

By conducting a National ICH Inventory, “we will be able to determine which diverse cultural traditions still exist on St. Maarten, which are becoming endangered and in urgent need of safeguarding and how specific policies and measures can be taken to ensure their renewal, protection and continuity,” a release stated.

According to the UNESCO website, “living heritage is a driver for sustainable development” and “we are confident that a National Inventory would inform Government as well as public and private industries and support nation-building, heritage protection and cultural tourism. Given that St. Maarten is an associate member of UNESCO, we are mandated to uphold the 2003 Convention on Safeguarding ICH,” the release continued.

The ICH Committee consists of active professionals in the fields of Cultural Policy, National Development, Heritage Management, Youth Affairs and Tradition Bearing. The committee will host a second round of national consultations with key stakeholders of various ethno-cultural and heritage backgrounds during September.

An anonymous Inventory Exercise is available to the public and it consists of 15 open-ended questions relating to the ICH domains mentioned above. “We hereby would like to extend an invitation to the entire public to become involved and proactive in helping the Department and NatCom to complete the National ICH Inventory. Please go to the link http://www.sintmaartengov.org/government/ECYS/Pages/Intangible-Cultural-Heritage-Inventory.aspx to access the Inventory Exercise as well as the ECYS Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MinistryOfEducationCultureYouthandSportsAffairs/ and the UNESCO Facebook pages and website https://www.facebook.com/UNESCOStMaarten/ and http://www.unesco.sx/,” the release concluded.

To volunteer, participate or for further information on this project, contact the Department of Culture (ECYS) via culturedepartmentofsxm@gmail.com or phone (721) 542-6608 ext. 300 and the St. Maarten NatCom for UNESCO via henrymarcellia@gmail.com and/or phone (721) 520-3051.