On April 25, 2019, CHS & M held its Annual General Meeting upstairs at the Museum. It was well attended by a broad cross-section of the community: members, local residents and representatives of the government. The pledged support from the Minister of Carriacou & Petite Martinique Affairs, the Honorable Kendra Mathurine-Stewart, was encouraging as the organization works to expand its capacity to preserve the history and culture of Carriacou and Petite Martinique through the management of Carriacou’s historical sites and make needed improvements in the museum to better serve residents and tourists. The Treasurer’s Report reflected CHS & M’s activities for the years 2017 and 2018 as no AGM was held last year. Officers and a new Board of Directors were elected for 2019-2020. Executive members are Stephen Alexander, President; Vinisha Cudjoe, 1st VP; Earle Lawrence, 2nd VP; Patrica John, Treasurer; Kisha Isaac, Assistant Treasurer; Elizabeth Bedeau, Secretary; Tevin Andrews, Public Relations Officer. Directors are Patricia Hollingsworth, George McIntosh, Randy Cornelius, Javan Williams, Deanna Isaac, Maria Hamlet and Carl Bedeau. Supernumeraries: Ingrid Lewis and Augustine Charles.
Hon. Kendra Mathurine-Stewart, Minister of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs and Local Government and Legal Affairs; Ms. Rholda Quamina, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs and Local Government; Mr. Javan Williams, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs and Local Government; members of the Board of Directors; other members of the Society and invited guests, a pleasant good afternoon.
Ladies and Gentlemen: My message this evening will be very brief. Unlike the past few years, when I stood here with excitement to report on the state of the Carriacou Historical Society, this evening I will just highlight the positive strides that we have made to keep our vision alike and strive to accomplish the mission of the society.
Last year, the members of the Board looked at ideas to help in moving the Society forward. I will discuss a few of them and explain what steps are needed to bring them into actuality: 1) To make community awareness an initiative of the Society, we need to create attractive advertisements in places like the passenger terminus at the new Port and on the Osprey; 2) we need to develop community outreach programs to reach out to all sectors of the community, and 3) develop projects that will help in the preservation of our heritage.
In this regard, the Board has since made some changes in its functions to implement some of these ideas. In lieu of the standing committees that have not been functioning, we now have three sub-committees serving with the Executive Committee: Finance; Heritage Preservation; and the Press. The Board will now meet quarterly in March, June, September and December. In terms of community awareness and heritage preservation, the Society, working in collaboration with the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Festivals Board, has developed a project to enhance Shakespeare Mas, by bringing Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” back into the schools so that our young people will have a better appreciation for this cultural event.
I am pleased to mention that our library, which has over the years been underutilized, is now reorganized, and all the books and historical documents are properly cataloged and are now available to the community.
Despite the many challenges faced by the Society in the past two years, we were able to keep the museum open throughout, making it accessible to visitors. In 2017, we had 539 visitors: 40% of then came from Europe; 34% from the Caribbean region; 24% from North America and 2% from other countries. In 2018, there were 547 visitors: 43% from Europe; 38% from North America and about 18% from neighbouring Caribbean islands. The number of visitors in these two years was extremely low when compared to earlier years. However, it is important to mention the visitors to the museum because the Society depends heavily on the admission fees visitors pay for its sustainability.
Now, I want to say to the incoming Board of Directors, we cannot continue to operate the museum shop as a “Mom and Pop boutique.” The museum should be upgraded to attract visitors; to do that the Board must take a businesslike approach to make it something of interest to visitors. As a non-profit entity, we have the option to seek soft-loans to do whatever it takes to upgrade the museum. That is the only way we can make progress. While we welcome the government’s help, we will get nowhere if we just sit back and wait. So, I challenge the incoming Board to take the initiative to do what is necessary.
I had intended to be very brief this evening but because our invited guest speakers have disappointed us I will touch briefly on our at-risk heritage.
We must understand that heritage does not only refer to culture. It encompasses both the intangible and tangible. So, while we pay some attention to the preservation of our cultural traditions, the tangible heritage is neglected. Look at the sugar mills and other tangible elements of our historical and industrial past; they are left to degradation. Both our community and our government need to take an interest in the preservation of our intangible as well as the tangible heritage.
As I speak, the Carriacou Historical Society, in collaboration with the Grenada Tourism Authority and the Festivals Board, has embarked on a project for the preservation of Shakespeare Mas—an outstanding cultural event—by looking into Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” from an historical perspective.
Many people ask the question: “Why Julius Caesar when his life is part of Roman history?” Well, for many years we have embraced Julius Caesar in our carnival. So, we need to look at his historical background. He was not just a fictitious character. When we look at our Big Drum, it was brought here by our fore-parents from Africa and it has become one of our main cultural tradition. So too, is Julius Caesar.
In closing, let me extend our gratitude to our corporate supporters: Netherlands Insurance Company, the Grenada Co-operative Bank, FLOW and others for their continued support. To the members of the outgoing Board of Directors, who have helped in keeping the Society alive, I say thank you. To Ms. Clemencia Alexander, Ms. Elizabeth Bedeau and Ms. Kisha Alexander, my personal thanks to you for helping me to keep the museum and the Society functioning.
I wish everyone God’s Blessings.