Countrywide Workshops on Belize’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Underway Print E-mail
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Thursday, 22 August 2013 00:00

Participants at the Intangible Cultural Heritage Workshop held at the Center for Employment TrainingA two-day workshop on Belize’s Intangible Cultural Heritage ended on August 16, 2013 at the Center for Employment Training in San Ignacio Town. In attendance were librarians, artists and craft persons interested in enhancing Belize’s cultural life.

Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) means the practices and knowledge, as well as the objects associated with them, that individuals or communities recognize as part of their cultural heritage. Such traits as oral tradition, performing arts, rituals and traditional craftsmanship, which are transmissible from generation to generation, are recognized as being parts of ICH.

Fortunately, ICH was recognized as a great value to humanity at the General Conference of UNESCO meeting held in Paris for its 32nd session in 2003, known as the Convention for the Safeguarding of ICH, Belize became a signatory to this Convention in 2007.

Since that signing, Belize has made an attempt to put in place safeguards to ensure the protection of the different forms of ICH. Thus far only one cultural element has been inscribed on the representative list and that is for the Garifuna Language, Dance and Music. But Belize is an interwoven fabric of cultures, and thus the role of the Institute for Social and Cultural Research, which is a vehicle within the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) is to assist members of the community to fully understand the ICH movement and act on it.

“What we hope is that other persons or group will be inspired to nominate more traditions that will be representative of our country.  Our role is to provide technical assistance in helping these groups with the different cultures to be inscribed” said Felicia Pelayo, facilitator for the country wide workshops under the Institute for Social and Cultural Research.

One of the outputs of the Workshops, now being held across the Country, is to create a cultural map that will showcase the different forms of ICH by District. Under this plan, researchers will be able to easily discover some of the traditions such as those existing in food, music and languages in various parts of the Country.

Some of the benefits of knowing the different forms of Intangible Cultural Heritage includes promoting community dialogue, which opens up new opportunities for international assistance, and adding to the richness of our cultural lives. Various groups have approached the Institute for Social and Cultural Research and are now seeking technical and financial assistance to get their work promoted.

Similar ICH workshops have been held in other parts of the Country with the Institute for Social and Cultural Research who were meeting with residents in Corozal on August 5th and 6th, in Orange Walk on the 7th and 8th and in the Belize District on the 13th and 14th. Plans are now underway to hold other Intangible Cultural Heritage workshops on the 21st and 22ndof August at the Sacred Heat Parish Hall in Dangriga and on the 29thand 30th at the Saint Peter Claver Parish Hall in Punta Gorda.