Dutch State Secretary of Culture and Media Gunay Uslu and the public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba on Tuesday signed a culture covenant. In this agreement, the four parties committed to taking joint responsibility for the cultural infrastructure in the Caribbean Netherlands. Parties want to bring change towards a more sustainable culture policy and establish a better basis.
This will take place through a collaboration in the area of culture education, culture participation, investments in libraries and by improving the accessibility of the islands to culture funds. There will be special attention for the shared cultural heritage and the slavery past.
In the next step, the Netherlands and the public entities will further work out the agreements in the covenant in island culture agendas. At that time, parties will also make concrete agreements about the goals that they want to reach. The local communities and culture sector will be involved in the process. The culture covenant is the start for further cooperation.
Saba Commissioner Bruce Zagers signed the covenant on behalf of Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Rolando Wilson who was unable to attend the online signing ceremony due to illness. “We are happy to be a part of this movement that gives culture a priority on the agendas. The signing of this covenant is definitely the first of many important steps that will need to be made to truly establish a comprehensive and executable cultural policy. We have been having these discussions for many years and we are delighted to have reached this pivotal point,” said Zagers.
Zagers said in his short speech during the signing ceremony that the culture covenant was not the end point, but merely a beginning. “We, the public entities now have to do our own work in educating, creating and documenting all necessary information that is vital for our cultural development.” “We look forward to continued cooperation from the Netherlands but also from our counterparts in the Dutch Caribbean. Although we may differ in culture, and are separated by many miles, we still have a shared history which makes it even more unique,” Zagers said.
Some of the agreements stated in the covenant are to promote greater visibility and accessibility of the National Culture Funds for potential applicants from the islands, to arrive at accessible and available Caribbean regional canons, to (further) develop talent in various art fields, and the continued accessibility of the Culture Participation 2021–2024 program for the Caribbean Netherlands.