The establishment of the Caribbean Heritage Network is the product of a multi-year project of the Organization of American States, funded by the United States Permanent Mission to the OAS. Over three years of extensive consultation, discussion, and activities on the ground, the 14 participating OAS member states have determined regional priorities for the protection and promotion of cultural heritage in the region and have together created innovative approaches to some of the most pressing challenges facing Caribbean heritage in the 21st century.
Below is a brief summary of the project concept and original components that have contributed to the ongoing workplan of the Caribbean Heritage Network.
To expand the socio-economic benefits of cultural heritage in the OAS member states of the Anglophone Caribbean as valuable, non-renewable, multi-component, and multi-stakeholder public resources through a new paradigm of public engagement.
This multi-nation project was conceived by the OAS as a new approach to the protection and promotion of an expanding range of heritage types while at the same time creating a framework in which each country’s heritage resources are carefully managed for long-term sustainability.
Caribbean member states of the OAS have expressed on multiple occasions their interest in obtaining technical support for heritage preservation and development efforts through the Interamerican Committee on Culture (CIC). The present project seeks to facilitate multi-sectoral stakeholder engagement in solving some of the most serious challenges to the effective conservation and management of the region’s cultural heritage:
- Limited financial and human resources for national administrators of cultural heritage, including declining public funding for culture, lack of continuous professional training resources, overly-narrow scope of national legislation pertaining to cultural heritage, shortage of sufficient personnel to manage officially recognized heritage resources, and deficient monitoring and enforcement of cultural heritage policies.
- Frequent reliance on short-term, income generating “mass” tourism in regional and national planning. This includes unsubstantiated or unrealized promises of employment and economic development; the framing of cultural heritage as an exploitable resource to attract primarily foreign investors and consumers; and the lack of viable economic alternatives to tourism for local peoples throughout the region.
- The disintegration and disappearance of local traditions and skills resulting in the breakdown of collective memory and shared identity. This is linked to the proliferation of global media; imbalance between rural and urban economic opportunities; replacement of local ingredients, cuisine, and subsistence strategies by imported food and foodstuffs; “brain drain” and increased emigration; and troubling changes to intergenerational relationships.
To contribute to a solution to these region-wide challenges, the overall project plan consists of two phases:
Phase I (2012-2014)
Phase II (2015-2017)
Phase II Project Components
The project consists of five components built on the recommendations of regional stakeholders from public, private, NGO, and academic sectors collected during the earlier needs assessment phase of the project (2012-2014).
Although hosted at specific locales throughout the region, each of the components in the current implementation phase (2015-2017) are designed for adaptability throughout the region.
Professional Networking & Capacity Sharing
Protective Legislation & Fiscal Incentives