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Aug 28, 2013

NICH Celebrates Ten Years of Culture And History in Belize

A decade after it was established, the National Institute of Culture and History, is redefining itself. At the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts, NICH unveiled a new culture policy in draft form which it intends to implement in the early part of next year. Key to the new national policy is the issue of cultural heritage. Duane Moody reports.

 

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The National Institute of Culture and History is Igniting a Cultural Renaissance…that was the theme for the celebration of the institution’s tenth anniversary.  Today at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts, stakeholders, diplomats, artists and the like joined in the celebration. NICH was created in 2003 to give culture and arts its rightful place in the preservation of cultural heritage.

 

Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism

Manuel Heredia, Jr.

“Over the past decade, this statutory body has served as the central entity responsible for the promotion of our cultural heritage with specific emphasis on the protection of the priceless cultural treasures of our land and people. NICH has also been tasked with raising general awareness of the often overlooked issue of culture as an important development program for Belize. As an organization, we firmly believe that the presentation and promotion of our cultural heritage as well as the arts are key to the development of both our identity and our society.”

 

But while in a decade, there have been achievements with providing exposure to the multi-cultural diversity and experience in the jewel, there is still a long way to go. President of NICH, Diane Haylock, spoke of the need to establish a national museum in Belmopan. Haylock noted that the under-performance in culture and arts at the primary, second and tertiary level must be addressed.

 

Diane Haylock

Diane Haylock, President, NICH

“There is a great need for much more resources; though far from being enough. With the establishment of NICH, there has been much more resources available to carry out the culture sector mandate. Those resources come from an annual subvention of two million dollars from the government of Belize via our Ministry of Tourism and Culture and that is combined from revenues and the fees collected from our world class archeological sites and other income garnered from other entrance fees, rentals and other events. Prior to NICH, there was probably was just a total of two million dollars if that much across all the scattered departments or units. There should at the very least be one House of Culture or Cultural Center in each municipality of Belize to allow for a full program of cultural offering; allowing the teaching, the training, exhibitions and performances in the various art and cultural forms. We are all aware of the large portion of the budget that is attributed to education in Belize and that is commendable. Nonetheless, I would like to suggest that the greatest underachievement in these ten years has been the inability to address the matter of promoting culture and the arts as curricular subjects at the primary and secondary levels and I would like to add the tertiary levels because after all, we are teaching our teachers there to teach our children. We are doing our children a disservice by not fulfilling their entitlement of a cultural right.”

 

Several video presentations were made during the ceremonies today to highlight the works of the various institutions under the belt of NICH including the Institute of Creative Arts, the Institute of Archeology and the Institute of Social & Cultural Research.  Since 2012, there has been work done on the Belize Culture Policy and today, the first draft of that policy was released. It was steered by Doctor John Morris and the policy, which seeks to encourage a national identity, has been sanctioned by NICH and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

 

Nigel Encalada, Director, Institute of Social & Cultural Research

Nigel Encalada

“To address the issue of how it is that our policy perspective, we can collectively seek to preserve and promote Belize’s diversity of culture and its forms, it’s intangible and tangible cultural heritage and of course how it is that we can see to develop the creative industries and especially out of the forms that exists within the various cultures in Belize. There were four themes that ran throughout the consultations as we travelled from district to district. One was the issue of identity; the other was the issue of the preservation, promotion and economic development. The other was the distribution and access to available resources and the other was youth.”

 

Amendments are expected to be made to the policy by November after which it will be taken to cabinet. Implementation is planned by the end of the current fiscal year in March, 2014. Duane Moody for News Five.

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