Department of Culture and Historic Preservation

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    Amaziah George

    I’ve always found myself disappointed when thinking about the culture and history of the U.S. Virgin Islands. My disappointment reached its peak after the hurricanes as historic buildings, paintings and artwork were damaged or destroyed by water and mold. There are several departments that focus on preserving our historic landmarks. If we had a dedicated department (much like states like Hawaii and territories like Puerto Rico) the Virgin Islands would be able to better track cultural shifts, document them, and educate the local population and visitors about our history and possibly even our future. Which departments currently manage our historic landmarks?


    In yesterday’s newspaper I read that the Governor vetoed legislation designed to give DPNR and a new unit of Government, a ‘Committee for the Preservation of Government Collections’, the coordination you comments suggest is important. The initiative centered around the much discussed issue of the well being of historical and valuable artifacts entrusted to the Governor’s office in the aftermath of Irma and Maria. The Governor’s Office wants to maintain control over these articles without broader involvement (no public information is available as to where or what condition these are now in). The Governor’s veto of the proposed legislation claims that the Bill is duplicative, creates confusion, will create administrative delays and makes no funding available.

    Having a coordinated historic landmark and cultural capacity. We have have considerable history and culture to showcase, regardless and a systematic approach for caring and displaying this material can only be beneficial and in the interest of us all, regardless of the Governor’s thoughts to the contrary.

    This morning’s Daily News carried an article by a Suzanne Carlson. She interviewed Julio Encarnacion III who is the Governor’s “new curator for the Government House collection of publicly owned art and cultural antiquities.” Based on the interview Ms. Carlson had with Mr. Encarnacion he evidences no professional training (though training can be made up for by experience), as well as no real on-the-job experience. Oops!!

    BTW. The principal job of legislators is to enact meaningful legislation and prioritize government spending. Passing legislation without authorizing real spendable funds sends the message that you are really not trying to make something happen. What you are doing is simply taking action for appearance sake. Not everything requires new funding but given that the entire government lacks sufficient money to do what is already required, how did the legislators expect funding to materialize to make this proposed legislation realistic?

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