Education Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine on Monday charged the National Trust of Guyana (NTG) and Guyanese, on a whole, to make every effort to preserve the country’s tangible and intangible heritage.
The Education Minister, who also has responsibility for culture, youth and sport, was part of a group of officials who delivered remarks at the opening of the Georgetown International Heritage Conference at the Arthur
Chung Convention Centre.
According to Dr Roopnaraine, the organisation has no excuse and needs to come up with comprehensive systems of preserving both the tangible and intangible heritage.
“Even as I applaud the heroic efforts…valuable work, must admit that the State mechanisms for identifying and observing our built heritage have been far from ideal over the years,” Dr Roopnaraine told the audience.
He said the absence of protocols to preserve the most historical building in the capital reflected the gaps in cultural heritage policy that should not occur in a “sculptor rich society as ours”.
Dr Roopnaraine said one of his commitments, as a projected outcome of a completed policy, was the creation of a mechanism or the expansion of the remit of the National Trust, with a focus on preserving cultural heritage.
He said over the next two years and beyond, culture would occupy centre stage in Government’s sustainable developmental plan. He said there would be an examination of the implication of cultural practices in the era of climate change.
“We live in an era when cultural conflict, manifesting itself in the extreme as open warfare, resulting in the destruction of valuable built heritage and artefacts, much of it, hundreds of years old.”
Chief Executive Officer of the National Trust of Guyana, Nirvana Persaud said the organisation was established in 1979 following the passage of the National Trust Act. She said the vision of the Trust has surrounded the ideal that heritage should be valued. The National Trust has been doing this for the last 44 years, she said.
Also speaking at the event, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo said Government hoped that one day Georgetown would be counted among the heritage capitals of the world. He said cultural heritage remained an undocumented casualty of war.
The Government hopes to revitalise the scope of work to be undertaken by the National Trust and to ensure that it reaches out to the newly elected Town and District Councils to take responsibility in their respective areas for heritage resources, the PM noted.
Meanwhile, United States Ambassador Perry Holloway, who was also present at the event, said the Embassy was doing a lot for the preservation of Guyana’s cultural heritage. He is hoping that in the next month or so, two projects – the repairing of the Stabroek tower and clock and the Georgetown lighthouse, which has been standing tall since the mid 1800s – could get the necessary funding.
According to him, Guyana and the US are also this year celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations, as the Americans were one of the first countries to recognise Guyana.
The three-day conference, a collaboration between the National Trust and the World Monuments Fund, was organised to boost the heritage sector, particularly the tangible cultural heritage and to preserve, promote and protect Guyana’s heritage resources.
During the course of the sessions, seven important areas are expected to be covered including management and policy, history and theory, documentation and conservation, heritage sustainability, heritage and community, and world cultural and natural heritage and economics of preservation.