BROOKLYN, USA -- The Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc., a nonpartisan, tax-exempt nonprofit and non sectarian organization, participated in the consultation meeting on the St Vincent and the Grenadines policy framework and development strategies for the cultural and creative industry, held in Brooklyn, New York on Sunday.
The consultation was led by Cecil McKie, Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The panel included Selmon Walters, Consul General of St Vincent and the Grenadines in New York, Maxwell Haywood, president of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc, Joanne Legair, Culture Committee of the Council of St Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations USA, Inc (COSAGO) and Jose Francisco Avila, chairman of the board of the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc.
“This indeed is a worthwhile venture and I want to commend you for organizing it and inviting me to be here. The government is putting together a new culture policy for St Vincent and the Grenadines and it’s important that the Diaspora provides its input for the policy. More and more governments are looking to the Diasporas as a development resource, therefore it’s important that you play a role in fashioning the new culture policy,” said Walters.
“Part of our responsibility is to engage all the stakeholders and persons of interest in culture in St Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as the Diaspora to examine other existing culture policies in the region to look at the various protocols as they relate to culture in St Vincent and the Grenadines in New York and after the discussion to come up with a document which will then discuss the new proposed policy and that will be ratified by the ministry, by Cabinet and then brought into a final version. So your discussion will be very important for formulation of that policy document,” said McKie.
The consultation was a dialogue and partnership between all parties, government, and industry practitioners (including media) to bring to the forefront the need for decisive action to be taken by industry and government in order to address challenges, encourage new development initiatives, and support the enhancement of existing activities.
Representing the Garifuna cultural and creative industry were Frank Palacios, co-owner of the Budari Dance Company, Lucy Blanco and James Lovell of the Afri-Garifuna Jazz Ensemble and Mariano Martinez, president and CEO of the J. Dove Productions, Inc. Also in attendance were Rosita Alvarez, president of the Garifuna Settlement Day Cultural Mass Committee and Aquina Valentin, board member of the Garifuna Coalition.
The draft cultural policy of the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines (2005) represents a clear demonstration of the significance of culture and cultural activities to national development. It speaks to the broad socio-economic development implications and impact of culture, and emphasizes the government’s identification of culture and the arts as vital to individual and national development.
The project's objective is “To create a sustainable enabling business environment, which provides opportunity for the private sector to increase investment and create capacity or economic competitiveness”. The policy framework and accompanying development strategy are designed therefore to create the basis on which to build an environment for the commercialization of cultural products and services so that persons involved in the cultural industries can be adequately rewarded for their efforts.
“The Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. stands ready to establish a mutually beneficial strategic partnership with the government of St Vincent in the promotion of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Policy framework and development strategies for the cultural and creative industry,” said Avila.