Historic community art forms preservation project launched
Stabroek News
March 14, 2002

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The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, in collaboration with UNESCO, yesterday launched a project to preserve and revitalize community art forms.

The project, which was described by Culture Minister Gail Teixeira as "A Better Day will Come: Folklore Guyana," is a jointly-funded UNESCO and Guyana Government project which aims to preserve cultural traditions, while initiating a cultural renaissance in Guyanese society and an understanding of cultural traditions.

The project is intended to harness traditional and non-traditional sources of information in communities in order to capture and document Guyana's heritage, which is being lost with the passage of time and the passing of people.

While discussing the project yesterday, Teixeira stated that the memories and reservoir of local culture are in the villages. They are the "oral and intangible parts of our cultural heritage," she noted, and "are revealed in our dress, our music and the food we eat."

She also disclosed that the project aims to encourage both the young and the elderly in the preservation of the national heritage in the face of a diminishing cultural identity. While acknowledging the benefits of globalization and the wonders of information technology, the minister also pointed to the dangers that they posed to Guyana's cultural diversity and expressed concern at the 'Americanism' of many young Guyanese.

The minister also dismissed any fears of the project being a way of fusing the various cultural traditions. She revealed there was no desire to do so, since the project was in actuality, a recognition of cultural diversity and an expression of creativity, in a united way.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Dr James Rose, while giving an historical perspective of the evolution of local culture, highlighted Guyana's need to produce a people and a nation that are distinctly Guyanese as the true significance of the project.

Dr Rose also observed that in the past, dissimilarity was a weakness, which forced Guyanese to think of themselves as a separate people, rather than a community or a nation. However, if the nation is to survive, the people must harness their differences into a potent weapon to strengthen the survival and progress of the nation, Dr Rose declared. He noted that while there was an unintentional creation of a society comprising varied ethnicity, Guyanese should create a novel way of moulding their differences into a unique personality.

It is expected that villagers would be able to show what they have accomplished at regional and national levels when the project is completed.