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Cayman Conversation 21 Sep, 2023 Follow News


Melanie McField

Director of Programmes Carl Brown

By Cayman Conversations

Nominations are being encouraged for the prestigious 2024 Heroes Day awards.

The deadline for nominations is October 15th for national awards honouring outstanding citizens who have made exceptional contributions to the Cayman Islands.

The 2024 Heroes Day awards will pay special tribute to individuals and groups (including persons who are part of groups) in the category of culture encompassing the arts and creative pursuits which underlines the 2024 theme; ‘Celebrating our Cultural Artists and Creatives’.

The categories are Cherished Classics, Cultural Luminaries and Cultural Heritage Groups.

Nominations started on September 1st with a deadline of October 15th for getting all submissions in to be scrutinised by a national committee before the awardees are announced in the 2024 National Heroes Day Celebrations on January 22nd.

Two members of the National Heroes Day coordinating committee, Melanie McField - Director of Programmes and Communications with the Cayman Islands National Cultural Foundation(CNCF), and Carl Brown - a national treasure in his own right, were guests on the Caymanian Times podcast, Cayman Conversations discussing the preparations and procedures.

 As explained by Mr Brown,  persons involved in Cayman’s culture; from the culinary arts to the performance arts have played a key role in the development of the Cayman identity and society and should be given due recognition.

 “The fact that we are so definitively different than our neighbours, in terms of shipbuilding heritage and having one of the largest maritime inheritances legacies in the world means that we were so busy at work that we neglected parts of the community, which, in my estimation, we neglected to highlight our cultural icons,” observed Mr Brown.

 According to Mr Brown, this long overdue spotlight is now being shone on the people he described as the soul of the nation.

“We are now paused to recognise amongst us those who kept the soul alive; those who kept eyes sparkling with their poetry with their significant verse with their ability in music, whether it was in a group or in singularly and those who were storytellers.”

Amongst that group, he also listed the artists and designers, sculptors, and skilled craftspeople in the textile industry.

“Now, these awards are not for everyone. They are for persons who have floated to the very top of our consciousness that their names are constantly in mind and on our lips regarding their contribution as when we sing our national song.”

 Nominations are expected to flood in with the public urged to identify deserving people and groups in their respective communities and throughout the wider Cayman society and get their nominations in before the October deadline. Posthumous nominations are also being accepted.

 An important reminder to the public is nominations are being handled online exclusively this year, explained Melanie McField.

“We’ve kept the process online this year to ensure the ease of the process is there but also to ensure that you receive collectively all of the information that makes that application complete. And there’s also the public libraries that are available for those that are not the most tech-savvy and would need some help in explaining how the process works.”

She assured that the nomination form ‘is pretty self-explanatory’ with various formats to upload information including audio, picture formats, documents and PDF files.

“We’ve made it quite accessible and quite easy for you to upload all the information that supports your application because that’s what’s key. When the committee is looking through the nominations. It’s better to have more information than not enough.”

In urging the public to make a special effort to nominate persons they feel have made significant contributions to the Cayman Islands in the respective categories, Carl Brown said it would be quite unfortunate if deserving persons are left out because the deadline is missed. Self-nomination is also possible and a key criterion is that a nominee must have consistently contributed to the cultural fabric of the Cayman Islands for over 20 years.

Melanie McField the CNCF’s programmes and communications director elaborated on the importance of culture to the Cayman Islands calling for cultural studies and activities to be embedded in the education system.

“The recognition of culture is something that’s highly understated,” she said.

“It’s an area that I’m not only passionate about but it’s what I do for a living. The importance of culture is something that we’re missing out hugely especially where the education system is concerned. And that’s where the National Cultural Foundation comes in. We feel it’s our responsibility partly because it’s a collective responsibility of other entities as well, that we integrate and become part of the curriculum that allows the schools to teach true Caymanian heritage and keep the spirit, the culture, the heritage of these islands alive. It’s something that we really need to take home and, and take through the education system because, for me, that’s where it starts. And it’s truly invaluable. Culture is a significant part of us.”

The entire interview is available on Caymanian Times Facebook and Youtube pages from Saturday September 23.

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