Barbados hosting OAS culture ministers conference next month

Barbados will host the hemisphere’s culture ministers and other top authorities responsible for culture next month. The announcement was made today at the Organization of American States (OAS) headquarters in Washington. The biennial meeting of the culture ministers of the Americas is slated for Bridgetown, November 20 and 21.

The Barbadian Permanent Representative, Ambassador Michael King, and OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin signed the memorandum of understanding for the holding of the “Fourth Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and the Highest Appropriate Authorities,” which is being convened under the auspices of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development. The meeting aims to promote hemispheric policy dialogue and consensus on priority topics on the public policy agenda for culture.

Affirming the importance of culture, Ambassador King declared that his government was pleased to host this ministerial because “we see culture as a very important element of our national development.” He emphasized cultural industries as very important in the modern economic development as well as in the global economic context. Culture provides an opportunity for our people to be creative and innovative and to explore alternative ways to develop income-generating programs, he added.

“The OAS is the best partner for us to work with,” the Barbadian envoy declared as he singled out the Organization’s longstanding supporting for culture. King said Barbados looks forward to the ministerial as an opportunity to share best practices and experiences “to ensure that whatever comes out of the meeting will be a blue print, or at least some good sound advice, for governments and countries of the hemisphere to develop strong cultural policy [and] programs for the benefit of citizens.”

Ambassador Ramdin, meanwhile, thanked the Barbados government for its commitment and for agreeing to host this important culture meeting in Bridgetown. He said the meeting is timely as it will focus on a topic that is vital to everyone. He stressed culture as vital to peace-building as well as to values and norms advocated in society in terms of how people have to behave to become good citizens.

The OAS official shared the view of culture as a boon to countries’ economic development. “The Caribbean and Barbados have a lot to offer in terms of music and art, said Ramdin, noting the particular significance for a region so strongly dependent on the tourism industry. The hemispheric organization is “ahead of its time” he further said of the OAS’ approach in helping member countries make the link between culture and peace; and between culture and development. Good understanding is a valuable first step in creating an environment where people can live in peace, as knowing one another and knowing oneself are crucial elements in order to understand, resolve and accept differences, Ambassador Ramdin noted.

Equally important, the Assistant Secretary General noted, the results of the Bridgetown culture meeting will feed into the Summit of the Americas process. He expressed the hope that concrete proposals will flow from the culture ministers’ deliberations on how to the OAS can support Member States in this regard.

Among those witnessing the signing were Permanent Council Chairman Ambassador Jorge Reynaldo Cuadros of Bolivia and Alfonso Quiñónez, OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development (SEDI).

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