Promoting community's role in preserving cultural heritage

Wednesday, 2016-11-23 18:09:20
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NDO—The risk that many tangible and intangible parts of Vietnam’s cultural heritage might disappear or change is not a new problem. The effects of changes in the natural and social environments and human factors have caused damage to some parts of the nation’s cultural heritage. The ineffective promotion of the community’s role in preserving the nation’s cultural heritage is the main cause of this problem.

The traditional natural environment at some heritage sites has been altered by nearby construction work or polluted due to tourism with a direct effect on the sites’ value. Not only tangible heritage sites but also elements of intangible cultural heritage have gradually lost their vigour due to a failure to teach them and pass them on to younger generations.

There is a tale about a fifteen-year-old contestant at the Hanoi Ca Tru (ceremonial singing) Festival for young singers. She loved ca tru but did not teach it. The same situations have also happened with xoan singing, bai choi singing and Vi-Dam folk music.

According to UNESCO's 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, communities are the owners of their intangible cultural heritage, and it is they who identify and preserve it.

In terms of the involvement of communities, Article 15 of UNESCO’s 2003 Convention stipulates that “each State Party shall endeavour to ensure the widest possible participation of communities, groups and, where appropriate, individuals that create, maintain and transmit such heritage, and to involve them actively in its management.” Thus, the 2003 Convention explicitly expects States Parties to the Convention to get involved in activities by the groups and communities who are the holders and transmitters of the elements of intangible cultural heritage that are to be safeguarded.

Cultural heritage is the soul of society and the local community is the creator, protector and beneficiary of its cultural values. The voluntary participation of communities in preserving their heritage is essential.

Meanwhile, the heritage will also support communities by promoting tourism, developing products and services and generating sources of income.

It can said that the community is a major factor in preserving cultural heritage; however if people do not raise their awareness, mistakes will continue to be made. Preserving heritage is a continuous process. As a result, it is necessary to share skills and building active programmes to promote the role of the community.

In addition, it is necessary to give financial support to individuals and organisations that contribute to teaching and promoting the value of cultural heritage.