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Regional gathering gets underway in Nouméa

PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, March 23, 2010) - Culture representatives from around the Pacific have gathered this week to discuss ways to enhance the profile of culture in the region. The 23rd meeting of the Council of Pacific Arts (CPA) has started at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) headquarters in Nouméa, New Caledonia.

During three days, delegates from 20 Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) as well as Hawai΄i, Australia and New Zealand, will discuss a number of issues related to the strengthening of the cultural sector, a SPC (Secretariat of the Pacific Community) press release states.

The strengthening of the cultural sector includes developing a regional cultural strategy; incorporating culture into the education sector; building partnerships nationally, regionally and internationally; and accessing funds for culture.

They will also focus on preparations for the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts, which will be held in Solomon Islands in 2012. Delegates will hear from Solomon Islands on the status of festival preparations.

In addition, they will be presented with outcomes and recommendations of an evaluation of the Festival of Pacific Arts that was commissioned last year by SPC’s Human Development Programme (HDP) in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The festival evaluation will assist CPA, SPC and UNESCO to assess the festival’s contribution to the region and determine how to improve the event, SPC Human Development Adviser (Culture), Dr. Elise Huffer said.

"The evaluation was designed to relate to the UNESCO Convention on Intangible Heritage, so as to enable improved safeguarding of intangible heritage through the festival," Huffer said.

Another important aspect of the meeting is to strengthen partnerships and networks, the press release adds.

A number of regional and international cultural specialists are attending the meeting and will speak of examples and experiences from other regions and networks around the world.

"Partnerships are important not only for tapping into funding but also for widening horizons and creating opportunities for Pacific artists and cultural practitioners", Dr Huffer said.

The CPA meeting will be followed by a cultural policy workshop (March 25 to 27), which aims to provide guidelines to the delegates on the cultural mapping, planning and policy process.

This stems from a recently initiated €713,474 [US$964,000] project aimed at strengthening the cultural sector. The project, entitled ‘Structuring the Cultural Sector,’ has been funded by the European Union and will be implemented by SPC.

PICTs represented at the meeting are American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji Islands, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna.

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