A delegation of the Culture Department of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) visited Saba on Monday, October 24, and Tuesday, October 25 to meet with the Public Entity Saba and with the local stakeholders.
The Public Entity Saba was one of the parties that signed the Culture Covenant on September 27 this year. The other co-signatories were the Netherlands, Bonaire, and St. Eustatius. As part of the Culture Covenant, the Caribbean Netherlands islands each will implement a cultural agenda. The Ministry of OCW wants to work on 16 areas of cooperation with the islands.
The topics of the culture covenant are international, inter-island collaboration; culture education and language development; culture participation; general culture heritage; colonial past/slavery commemoration; public collections; built heritage; immaterial heritage; archeology; underwater archeology; heritage and spatial development; cultural heritage during a crisis; libraries; digitizing; archives and archive storages; culture and entrepreneurship.
On Saba, the five-member delegation was accompanied by policy advisor with culture responsibilities Elsa Peterson and they met with Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Rolando Wilson, members of the schools, local artists, the museums, the library, the Saba Heritage Center, Child Focus, the Culture Policy Committee and the Saba Association of Caribbean States which is the local coordinator for the Culture Participation Fund.
Culture Policy Plan
Saba is currently completing its Culture Policy Plan. This overall, comprehensive plan, which is drafted with the input of the culture policy committee and others, will determine the framework, set priorities and urgencies, and who is responsible for what in matters relating to culture on Saba.
During a meeting with Commissioner Wilson, the delegation handed over the official copy of the Culture Covenant. This document will be translated in English. Wilson said the delegation’s visit was important considering the opportunities that the recently signed Culture Covenant presented for Saba. “The covenant opens ways to get funding for our cultural projects.” He said these projects may include the library, the Saba Heritage Center, the museums, the renovation of monuments, the restoration of the historic Ladder Bay steps, the Emancipation Day commemoration, and the celebration of Saba Day.
The OCW Culture delegation said it was very pleased with the initiative of the Public Entity Saba to draft a long-term vision for culture. “This will definitely help with the cultural agenda,” the delegation said. The delegation was also very positive about the fact that the Public Entity Saba involved all stakeholders.
“Our State Secretary for Culture and Media Gunay Uslu is very interested in working with the islands. We are here on her behalf,” said the delegation, which also paid a visit to St. Eustatius and Bonaire later in the week. The visit to Saba got the delegation more familiar with the cultural stakeholders and with the work that Elsa Peterson is doing. Peterson said she is all for cooperation. “A stronger collaboration throughout the Kingdom benefits us all, especially because we share cultural heritage,” she said.
The OCW Culture delegation responded very positively when asked their opinion about Saba and the Saban culture. “It is a beautiful, very characteristic island, very well-maintained, well-cared for. It has beautiful architecture and the traditional cottages that are left, are very special. There is unity in what everything looks like. It is like an open-air museum.”
The delegation observed that people are really proud to be Saban. “People talked a lot to us about the island’s history and heritage, they shared old stories, and they do so with love. You feel the power of being small, and isolated, to preserve and honor the past. We felt the Saba hospitality, the friendliness, the kindness, and you can see that reflected in the population and in culture.”
The OCW Culture delegation pointed out that there are funding opportunities for organizations to get grants to realize their activities and ambitions. The list of six funding organizations, which are funded directly by the Ministry of OCW, that work with the islands can be found on the website of the RCN. https://english.rijksdienstcn.com/education-culture-science/culture/cultural-grants