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Nassau Is Now A UNESCO Creative City Of Crafts And Folk Arts


With regard to our application to have Nassau designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Arts, Creative Nassau is proud to announce the receipt of the following communication on December 1, 2014 from Irina Bokova, The Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO):

I am pleased to inform you that, after close examination of the application prepared by the city of Nassau and taking into account the favourable support from the Bahamas National Commission for UNESCO, as well as the endorsement of nominated Creative Cities, I have decided to designate Nassau as a member of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network, in the category of Crafts and Folk Arts. Allow me to congratulate you for this achievement….I look forward to a fruitful cooperation between UNESCO and the city of Nassau.

Creative Nassau and the entire country have every reason to be proud of this achievement. We have become one of the only two small island states in the Caribbean (along with Haiti who was also successful this year) to succeed in obtaining the UNESCO Creative City designation in competition with 50 other cities. This designation brings to fruition a six-year vision of the late Jackson Burnside III and this hard working Creative Nassau Team of dedicated, persistent and hardworking Bahamians who believe passionately in the creativity of the Bahamian people and are committed to “Promote and Celebrate Bahamian, Art, Culture and Heritage from the inside out” with particular emphasis on the indigenous Bahamian straw industry and our Junkanoo tradition.

The Creative Nassau Board includes Pam Burnside, President; Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, Vice President, Dr Davidson Hepburn, Secretary; Paulette Mortimer, Treasurer and Directors, Dr Nicolette Bethel, John Cox and Vaughn Roberts. CN counts among its members, Royann Dean, Sonia Farmer, Rosemary Hanna, Quinton & Maureen Woodside and Yvette Rolle. In their occupations and community endeavours all are long-time, tremendous contributors to the creative community.

The designation of UNESCO Creative City is an exceptionally valuable one for Nassau. The UNESCO Creative Cities Network is global and encompasses cities all around the world (e.g. Spain, USA, Egypt, China, Japan, Canada, Scotland, Australia, Germany, Korea, and Italy). It seeks to develop international cooperation among cities that have identified Creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable development, in the frame work of partnerships including the public and private sectors, professional organizations, communities, civil society, and cultural institutions.

The Network facilitates the sharing of experiences, knowledge and resources among the member cities as a means to promote the development of local creative industries and to foster worldwide cooperation for sustainable urban development.

The Creative Cities Network aims to:
1.    Strengthen the creation, production, distribution and enjoyment of cultural goods and services at the local level;
2.    Promote creativity and creative expressions especially among vulnerable groups, including women and youth;
3.    Enhance access to and participation in cultural life as well as enjoyment of cultural goods; and
4.    Integrate cultural and creative industries into local development plans.

The award of membership in this prestigious network recognizes that over the course of Bahamian history, crafts and folk arts such as straw work and Junkanoo have privileged creativity and resourcefulness in the use of available, sustainable materials. In addition, Creative Nassau recognizes that Bahamian straw craft and junkanoo:

  • Are grounded firmly in Bahamian history, heritage and economic behavior
  • Have exhibited a resilience that has allowed them to survive social and economic devaluation—in the case of junkanoo, proscription by law in more than one era
  • Act as vehicles for the transmission of the associated tradition and skills
  • Encompass a variety of crafts and can therefore contribute to the thrust for diversification
  • Enjoy the demonstrated support of the Bahamas Government
  • Have great potential for future economic and social development

Creative Nassau believes that this designation will be the vehicle to prove that Creative Tourism – which offers authentic insight into the country’s rich, traditional creativity – is the way forward for the region. Properly exploited, it will encourage visitors to travel here to learn about, participate in, and experience our art, culture and heritage rather than merely for our sun, sand and sea.

It is also our belief that Creativity can, and should become, the third pillar of our economy by making innovation an essential part of our developmental initiatives in order to:

  • Enhance awareness, appreciation and celebration of our arts, culture and heritage
  • Provide enormous opportunities to expand the sphere in which Bahamians at all levels of the economic and social strata can earn a living
  • Increase the use of indigenous resources and materials thereby considerably reducing dependence on costly imported technologies and products
  • Help to increase Bahamian exports

We wish to sincerely thank our Partners who believed in our vision and so readily endorsed our application: His Excellency, Sir Arthur Foulkes, Dr Leon Higgs of the Bahamas National Commission for UNESCO, our Mayor, Gevon Moss of the Downtown Nassau Partnership, and Silbert Ferguson of The Junkanoo Corporation of New Providence. We extend thanks over the oceans to the following fellow Members of the Creative Cities Network who also endorsed our application from the Cities of Santa Fe, New Mexico and Paducah, Kentucky U.S.A.; Kanazawa, Japan; Aswan, Egypt; Fabriano, Italy; and Icheon, Korea, and to our many supporters both here and abroad who have constantly encouraged and assisted us in our efforts, particularly Clare Sands of The Plait Lady and Beverly Taylor of Harl Taylor BAG.

We are most grateful to such sponsors as Cable Bahamas Cares Foundation and The Counsellors Ltd. Thanks also to Kevin Turnquest of Vaudio Productions who is here with us today. Interested persons may keep abreast of Creative Nassau’s development plans and activities on our website and our facebook page.

As we close this successful chapter and embark upon this new phase of our existence, we encourage the public to “light the stick of Creative Nassau fire” and pass it on to others to keep our Bahamian creativity burning bright, from person to person, from community to community, from island to island, from the country to the world!


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