June 24, 2021

The Editor speaks: Culture

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The government has unveiled its National Culture and Heritage Policy & Strategic Plan 2017-2026. Our premier, Alden McLauglin in his Foreword said “This document has been drawn from and put together through existing instruments, strategies and policies, which comprise culture and heritage components including the Cayman Islands Constitution, Vision 2008 and national, regional and international policies.

“In developing this policy and strategic plan we had many discussions with a cross-section of individuals and representatives from cultural entities including the Cayman Maritime Heritage Foundation/Cayman Catboat Club, Cayman National Cultural Foundation, National Trust, National Museum and the National Gallery. I was thoroughly pleased with the interest and enthusiasm of those who served on the Cabinet-appointed steering committee and appreciate the results of their undertakings, which are vital to conserving our heritage and further developing our culture. The Culture and Heritage Policy will assist when making decisions such as resource allocation for things such as educational and social programmes. Areas of focus included land-based heritage; maritime heritage; legal and governance aspects; literary arts and oral history; visual arts, crafts, and creative industries; and performing arts and festivals.”

The glaring omission from these cultural entities was The Cayman Drama Society (CDS), the oldest cultural body in the Cayman Islands (1969) and started by Caymanians!

The Premier goes on to say, “While it is important to remember our heritage and history, we must remember that our culture is a dynamic thing constantly evolving, reflecting the addition 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. When I was born, the population was 8,500. Now it is more than 60,000 people. With that meteoric increase in population in a small country that supports more than 130 different nationalities, it is easy to see the fluidity of culture as it builds on the past and paves the way for the future. We must recognise the vibrancy of the Cayman culture, realise how important it is to us as a people, and how important it has always been to those who come here and truly want to understand what life is like in Cayman.”

So what is Cayman Culture? My wife, Joan (Watler) will tell you the Eastern Caribbean Culture brought in here was definitely NOT Cayman culture.

Instead of listening to “cross-section of individuals and representatives from cultural entities” I would humbly advise our prime Minister to read the various books published about Cayman written by Caymanians, including the one written by Joan. All these books contain a wealth of knowledge and will tell you everything about Cayman Culture.

Every single author of these books should have been consulted but they weren’t. Why?

Because they wrote from their personal knowledge and not from the perceived Caribbean /Cayman culture touted by many of the persons on these bodies and supported with finance by the government.

On a positive note I am pleased an attempt was made to put together a Strategic Plan even though I am skeptical at what is perceived and what was actual will be lost forever,

I leave you with the Vision Statement and Mission Statement from the National Culture and Heritage Policy & Strategic Plan 2017-2026:

Vision Statement

Safeguarding our heritage, living our culture

Mission Statement

We are committed to the freedom and inclusion of cultural expression and creativity; preserving and safeguarding our heritage and ensuring sustainable development for all aspects of the diverse culture and heritage in the Cayman Islands.

I cannot argue with any of that.

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