Representatives from 15 Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) gathered in Hawaii last week for the 29th Meeting of the Council of Pacific Arts and Culture (CPAC). Participants reviewed the work of the Council, and engaged in working sessions to finalise the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Framework (MELF) for the current Regional Culture Strategy (RCS) and explore the strategic direction for the regional work on culture at the expiration of the RCS post 2020. The meeting saw strong support for the increased integration of Pacific arts and culture into government areas such as education and health, and stressed the need for increased investment in culture both at national and regional level, including recognition of the role of the Ministries responsible for culture.
CPAC 29 was organized and convened by the Pacific Community, through its Social Development Program (SDP), and hosted by Hawaii in its capacity as host of the next Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture (FestPAC) . The agenda included a series of focused sessions on the pressing challenges being faced by the Pacific in protecting and advocating for the rich cultural heritage and unique arts traditions in the region. Participants took part in what were some really engaging and thought-provoking discussions about ongoing efforts to keep culture relevant and alive as part of the sustainable development agenda including in terms of inspiring Pacific youth to lead in this sector, strategies to partner with the private sector, and how to explore opportunities to promote and advance cultural exchanges and cooperation for arts and culture across the Pacific.
Key to this work is a strong Pacific Regional Culture Strategy. The current regional strategy will expire in 2020 and PICTs through CPAC members are now in the process of developing the next strategy, to be rolled out post 2020. Helping to facilitate this process, participants took part in a ‘Theory of Change’ exercise to frame the values informing this new strategy and to determine priorities. The Council was in agreement that they will proceed with the development of a new strategy that not only reflects a strong Pacific narrative and collective values, but also one which reflects both the regional and individual PICT priorities for cultural development. The new strategy will be presented at the 30th Meeting of the Council of Pacific Arts and Culture and 5th Ministers of Pacific Culture Meeting on 15-17 June 2020 for approval.
SDP Director, Kuiniselani Toelupe Tago – Elisara, highlighted the significance of the next CPAC strategy and its potential impact across the Pacific, “The central role that arts and culture plays in the Pacific is an important part of development. It symbolizes our rich and diverse cultures, while uniting us in a common determination to protect our cultural heritage. The development of CPAC’s post 2020 strategy will ensure that we able to adapt to the changes in our region, and keep the essential role of arts and culture at the forefront of Pacific development.”
Participants also discussed upcoming international meetings focused on culture as an opportunity to engage in strong advocacy efforts for the Pacific both regionally and nationally. Both the October ACP Ministers of Culture Meeting in Niger, and the November UNESCO Ministerial Forum in France, were seen as valuable platforms to amplify the voice of Pacific Arts and Culture on a global stage, and participants strongly supported approaching these and other international meetings with a common and consistent regional message.
CPAC 29 was also an opportunity for participants to discuss the progress of the planning and preparations for the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts (FestPAC), which will be held in Hawaii from 810-21 June 2020. The updates provided in addition to logistics and administration, included the focus on Biosecurity and Public Health which are two of the key areas in which SPC has been supporting the Festival over the years, through a multi-sectoral approach to FestPAC. Additionally, CPAC was also updated on the FestPAC Youth Ambassador Programme, a new initiative which has great potential beyond the festival to create Pacific Arts and Culture ‘champions’ for the next generation.