At its 35th meeting held virtually on 13 – 14 April 2022, the Council of Pacific Arts and Culture (CPAC) endorsed the Pacific Regional Culture Strategy (PRCS) 2022-2032 and the Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture (FestPAC) Review Report for tabling at the upcoming 5th Meeting of Culture Ministers.
Colin Yabaki, Chair of the Culture Strategy Working Group and Director Heritage and Arts, Fiji, provided the council a summary of the progress on developing and finalising the PRCS, saying the Strategy was flexible in that it allowed countries to select indicators that aligned with national development priorities. The five priority areas of the new PRCS include Cultural Policy Frameworks, Cultural Heritage, Cultural Wellbeing, Cultural Innovation and Cultural Statistics.
“Now more than ever, the importance of the PRCS is evident. Even before the pandemic, our small Pacific Island nations were already struggling with low investment and budgets for culture. Over the last two years, COVID-19 has added even more pressure on our small island economies. The culture sector, in particular, has been affected in many ways and for these reasons, the PRCS is even more critical to help us to lobby for national and regional support and to seek development partner funding and assistance,” said Mr Yabaki.
The Council heard from the consultancy team which undertook a review of the Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture (FestPAC). Findings show that countries agree that the festival’s original intentions of conservation, safeguarding and continued practice of Pacific indigenous cultures remain significant and important across all generations. Hawai’i also updated the Council on progress towards the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture.
Among the calls to action noted by the Council during the meeting was the need to invest in culture-related data and strengthen cultural statistics and culture; the need for further work on traditional knowledge and intellectual property; support for cultural education including heritage studies, Pacific studies, Pacific language and the arts; strengthening of a culture-centred approach to conservation; protection of artists’ rights and cultural rights and safeguarding indigenous knowledge; and the need to formalise creative associations and enterprises.
“UNESCO would like to encourage continued advocacy and awareness-raising about the role of culture in sustainable development. In the frame of the Mondiacult Conference, there is an opportunity for the Pacific to discuss regional perspectives on a global level, in relation to the adaptation of cultural policies to be better equipped to address sustainable development challenges,” said Ellen Lekka, Culture Programme Specialist at the UNESCO Pacific Office in Apia.
The Council also heard from regional and international agencies on recent regional policy developments, programmes and activities which have a cultural dimension/component, or which are informed by cultural considerations.
Reiterating the Pacific Community (SPC)’s commitment to culture, its Deputy Director-General Dr Paula Vivili said culture has been an important area of work for SPC since its inception in 1947 and it proudly acts as custodian to the Pacific regional culture strategy and the Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture.
“The SPC Strategic Plan 2022 – 2031 reflects the central role that culture plays in the organisation. SPC supports sustainable development by applying a people-centred approach to science, research and technology across the Sustainable Development Goals by interweaving science, technology and innovation with cultural wisdom and indigenous knowledge. We serve our members by harnessing the nexus of climate, ocean, land, culture, rights and good governance, through trusted partnerships, investing in Pacific people and understanding Pacific contexts,” said Dr Vivili.
The 5th Meeting of Culture Ministers is set to take place virtually from 27 – 28 April 2022.
Samantha Rina, Communications and Visibility Officer, Human Rights and Social Development (HRSD) Division, Pacific Community (SPC) | [email protected] or (679) 3370 733 Ext: 35412