Heads of Culture from seven Pacific Island countries are in Noumea, New Caledonia this week to map cultural development priorities for the region.

The week-long meeting, hosted by the Government of New Caledonia with support from the Pacific Community (SPC) opened with a National Culture Policy Peer Review and Learning Meeting yesterday which will inform the second meeting of the Regional Culture Strategy Working Group to be held from 4 to 5 May.

“Culture is an important driving force for social and economic development and so we must give that force its full power, maintain and protect it from any attacks that might undermine its smooth advancement,” Member of New Caledonia Government in charge of Culture, Women’s Affairs and Citizenship and Chair of the meeting, Mme Dewe Gorodey said.

“The presence of Pacific Island countries here today demonstrates a real interest and willingness to move forward serenely on the path of progress in developing culture and all its components in our respective countries,” Mme Gorodey said.

The meeting provides an important opportunity for represented Pacific Island countries to undertake a national culture policy peer review and share lessons learnt in an effort to develop their respective national cultural policies.

A key focus of the meeting is progressing the recommendations from the Mid-Term Review of the Regional Culture Strategy: Investing in Pacific Cultures 2010-2020 and resource mobilisation strategies at national and regional levels.

The Regional Culture Strategy marked the first time SPC member countries and territories agreed to a coordinated framework, setting out specific goals and objectives for the region’s arts, culture and heritage sectors, in collaboration with partners such as The University of the South Pacific (USP), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

“SPC in collaboration with our sector partners and the Government of Fiji, Chair of the Working Group, have drafted Phase Two of the Regional Culture Strategy, guided  by the Mid-Term Review recommendations and decisions of the Working Group,” Pacific Community Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga said.

“The meetings this week will be important steps in refining these discussions and consolidating the way forward for the implementation of the second phase of the Regional Culture Strategy,” Dr Tukuitonga added.

The Working Group on the Regional Culture Strategy was endorsed in Guam at the 27th Council of Pacific Arts and Culture and the 3rd Pacific Ministers for Culture meeting, which were held during the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts last year.

SPC serves as the Secretariat for the Council of Pacific Arts and Culture.

Government representatives attending the week-long meeting are from Fiji (Chair of the Working Group), Kiribati, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu.

Media contacts:
Jean-Noel Royer, SPC Communications Officer, jeannoelr@spc.int or + 687 26 01 71
Dr Elise Huffer, SPC Culture Adviser, eliseh@spc.int