January 31, 2023

The Editor Speaks: Culture Policy – good effort but…

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After nearly two years in the making the Cayman Islands government has presented a Cultural Policy with one of its aims to try and protect local artists.

The Policy is calling for a national registry or database of artists working across all genres to provide access to education and training, marketing and promotional activities, and potential support for social services and healthcare.

The final draft of the Policy states: “The protection of the rights of the artist to explore the imagination and ability to produce creative work requires a supportive and enabling environment, which has not been formalised in the Cayman Islands.”

The government should be commended for trying to produce a Cultural Policy as to my knowledge this has never been executed before.

There are many other aims in the Policy and this includes protect the country’s cultural heritage.

My wife, Joan, along with many Caymanians often feel the rate and magnitude of development has detracted from the traditional Caymanian way of life. This is made even more difficult because the Cayman Islands have one of the highest rates of migration in the world, rated fourth when it comes to net migration from 222 countries.

Joan has mourned the loss of the traditional Caymanian cultures of her day to make way for the Eastern
cultures that have largely eaten up the ones she cherished. The Batabano Festival is one the examples she said. Nothing in that festival is Caymanian.

She disagrees with the statement that Cayman “has precious few cultural assets.” It has many and many local persons have produced books that list many of them. It has amazed me that the committee members never bothered to consult with the authors, many still living, of these books. Even when I pointed it out it was ignored!!

Cayman islands premier, Alden McLaughlin acknowledges the importance of culture by saying in the Legislative Assembly:

“Its achievements will contribute to the sustainable development of our Islands and the social well-being of our communities. This is very much also a social policy; the ramifications of its operationalisation will be felt in other areas across the country as social well-being interacts with crime reduction, health and wellness, and other benefits.

“While it is important to remember our heritage and history, we must remember that our culture is a dynamic thing constantly evolving, reflecting the inclusion of new people and new influences. Cayman, over the past 50 years in particular, has seen massive amounts of people from all over the world come to live and work in our country.

“We must recognise the vibrancy of the Caymanian culture, realise how important it is to us as a people, and how significant it has always been to those who come here and truly want to understand what life is like in the Cayman Islands.”

We must realise it indeed. It is a good effort but could have been so much more.

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