St. Maarten Delegation Attends UNESCO Conference in Bonaire

in Photo (Ms. Clara Reyes, Ms. Marcellia Henry, Ms. Sharine Allamby-Duncan, Mr. Albert van der Zeijden and Mr. Yuri Peshkov)


Kralendijk – Representatives from St. Maarten participated in United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s phase two of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) capacity building project for Suriname and the Dutch Caribbean on April 3-7, 2017 in Kralendijk, Bonaire. The delegation consisted of Ms. Marcellia Henry, Secretary General of St. Maarten National Commission (NatCom) for UNESCO, Mrs. Sharine Allamby- Duncan, Policy Advisor for the Department of Culture and Ms. Clara Reyes, Co-Director of the National Institute of the Arts (NIA). This fourth installment of the joint island training focused on mechanisms for international cooperation under the 2003
UNESCO ICH convention. The overarching project Strengthening the capacities of Suriname and Dutch Caribbean Islands for implementing the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage’ was coordinated by the ICH Workgroup of Bonaire and the Kingston Cluster Office for the Caribbean in Jamaica. The conference attracted over thirty attendees from the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St. Eustatius, Saba, St. Maarten and Suriname, and the Netherlands. Each country sent a delegation of professionals and practitioners in the fields of cultural and natural heritage, policy development and administration, museum management and the arts, history, archeology, anthropology and community and social affairs.

The five day long workshop was formally opened with words of inspiration from Bonaire’s Honorable Commissioner of Culture Ms. Nina den Heijer and Mr. Yuri Peshkov, Cultural Program Specialist of the Kingston Cluster Office. There were numerous digital presentations and handouts on the ICH inventorying and nomination processes, in addition to challenges and potential solutions. Mr. Albert van der Zeijden, the representative of the Dutch Centre for Intangible Heritage  elucidated on the importance of proper application procedures and showcased real-world examples of successful nominated elements. Attendees were divided into workgroups and tasked with a simulation exercise on summarizing, evaluating and nominating an ICH element as outlined in the convention. In addition, conference participants went on a tour to the famous cultural village of Rincon and visited the historical Magazina de Rei (King’s Storehouse) where they took advantage of opportunities to interact with elders from the nearby community, play native musical instruments and listen to the tales and teachings of a local healer. During the closing of the conference, attendees were treated to an amazing performance from the legendary cultural folk group Tutti Frutti.

“St. Maarten’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee is working tirelessly to inventory, document and preserve aspects of our living heritage. We have achieved many milestones thus far and were highly commended by our colleagues in Bonaire. We are organizing a second round of National Consultations to be held on June 1 and 2, 2017 to share the results from the survey conducted (June – October 2016) and gain stakeholder feedback and expertise on St. Maarten’s ICH. Subsequently, our aim is to publish the first National Inventory of St. Maarten, nominate an ICH element at the country level and have it represented on the  Dutch Kingdom Inventory. The ultimate strategic objective is to recognize, safeguard, and revitalize our cultural traditions and customs and we have the utmost support from our Honorable Minister of Culture Silveria Jacobs” stated the St. Maarten delegation/ICH Committee. For further information on ICH, please contact the St. Maarten NatCom for UNESCO via and the Department of Culture via