The Government of the Virgin Islands is seeking the public’s input on the development of a Culture and Heritage Policy and Strategy.
The formulation of this document is in alignment with The Virgin Islands National Sustainable Development Plan – Vision 2036: Building a Sustainable Virgin Islands, which engaged the public through more than 60 stakeholder consultations.
Premier and Minister for Culture Dr. the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley said public consultations for the plan revealed that one of the main priority areas of concern of the people was protecting national identity, fostering cultural integration, heritage, cultural education and nation building.
Premier Wheatley said in keeping with this practice of transparency, the Department of Culture continues to be informed by the public in the development of the Virgin Islands Culture and Heritage Policy and Strategy that will ensure that the policy is reflective of a wide range of views and ideas.
The Premier stated that the policy will be instrumental in promoting Virgin Islands culture and noted that the document will not only be useful for the contemporary relevance of culture and heritage, but for posterity.
“The Virgin Islands has a distinct culture comprising of invaluable intangible and tangible components. It permeates our very consciousness as a people. It is the foundation for how we see the world, how we behave, and how others see us,” Premier Wheatley said.
He added, “We are proud of our culture and how it has shaped our experiences and enriched our lives. The formulation of a cultural policy will help us to reflect on, celebrate, preserve, reinforce culture in our institutions, and harness its economic potential.”
The draft Virgin Islands Culture and Heritage Policy and Strategy will be circulated for public and community consultation, with accompanying public meetings. Consultations will be organised with Government ministries and departments, statutory bodies, non-profit organisations, artists, and culture and tradition bearers.
Town hall meetings will be scheduled on the four main islands. Public consultation will also be facilitated through online platforms to ensure widespread participation.
Premier Wheatley said that it is critical to the Department of Culture that all organisations and stakeholders that constitute the cultural and heritage institutional framework, contribute to the ongoing discussion on the revised policy and strategy.
The current Virgin Islands Culture Policy was finalised in 2013 and was influenced by recommendations made by UNESCO consultants: A. J. Seymour and Neville Dawes in 1981 and 1982, respectively. The document was formulated following consultations with Government ministries, cultural organisations, cultural practitioners, and the public.
The schedule for public consultations on the four main islands will be disseminated shortly.
The draft Virgin Islands Culture and Heritage Policy and Strategy is accessible on the Government of the Virgin Islands website. The public is also invited to send in written submissions to the Department of Culture via the following email address: email@example.com.
The Department of Culture remains committed to developing and preserving Virgin Islands culture in order to generate nation building efforts and social cohesion.