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Apr 24, 2006

Belize and Taiwan sign cultural agreement

Story PictureBelize and Taiwan have forged closer relations thanks to a new agreement between cultural counterparts. According to officials of the National Institute of Culture and History, on April fifteenth the Mayor of Kaohsiung City Chu-Lan Yeh officially opened a Belizean exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts. According to NICH President Yasser Musa, “We are Belize B Celebrating twenty-five years of Independence” will run until the end of May and includes the works of twenty-five artists. Musa hopes that the exhibition will be the first of many exchanges.

Yasser Musa, President NICH
?Artists for example like the famous George Gabb, Pen Cayetano, young artists like Gilvano Swasey, Michael Gordon, photographers like Jeremy Spooner, Richard Holder, Roland Parks, quilt makers like Mercy Sabal, so it?s a huge cross-section from north to south, east to west of artists from all over the country, placed into one exhibit to kinda show what the country has accomplished and done in arts over the past twenty-five years.?

Kendra Griffith
?My understanding is that you all have also signed an agreement with Taiwan, tell me a bit about that.?

Yasser Musa
?Well the NICH, National Institute of Culture and History signed a cultural agreement with the National Museum of History, which is in Taipei, which is the capital city of Taiwan. And that agreement basically spells out exhibit exchanges, technical cooperation, where they would lend us assistance in the area of curation, which means how to set up exhibits, how to care for exhibits, how to deal with objects and collections and also this new area of cultural development called e-culture, which is the electronic inventories of cultural material like artwork, or artefacts, books, anything that involves culture, how to catalogue them electronically.?

Following its showing in Taiwan, the exhibit will be brought to Belize for the Independence celebrations in September. According to Musa, Belize has also signed cultural agreements with Cuba and Mexico.

And while those ties will expose Belizean art to the rest of the world, here at home, recent belt-tightening has meant severe cuts across the budget. But according to Musa, we need to spend more money on promoting culture.

Yasser Musa
?We manage twelve archaeological parks, all across the country from Cerros up north in Corozal to Xunantunich out west to Caracol, Lubantuun down south, so these parks, we get revenue. Our main revenue stream comes from those parks, the government also subsidizes us, so pooling the government subvention along with the park collection and we get some small collections from the museum, from the House of Culture and things like that and those funds are pooled and distributed into the programmes, and the institutions. We have four institutions and that is the way we are funded.?

Kendra Griffith
?Now practically the whole country you would say has had implement austerity measures in the various sectors, has NICH had to do that??

Yasser Musa
?well, I believe being a person who has come from the area of culture that we still have not reached out true goals. I still believe that we should be investing, we can and we will be investing more in culture, there is never too much you can do. We have been very fiscally prudent as the government and the Prime Minister has asked us to be, but at the same time we need to carry out our programmes. We can?t cut back on the festival of arts, all the kids are expecting this, but we just need to manage it better and make sure we are spending the money in the right way.?

The Festival of Arts opens on May ninth at the Bliss Centre for Performing Arts.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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