The arts are not always in a prominent place on the political agenda in Africa, Latin-America and Asia. Nevertheless, an increasing number of governments recognise the importance of culture in itself and in connection to social and economic development. Part twenty-six in a series on cultural policy in non-Western countries.
A national identity that celebrates and promotes Fiji's cultural diversity and traditional culture. The government of Fiji, an archipelago of three hundred islands in the Pacific Ocean, hopes this vision will stimulate art funding. The program has seven pillars varying from money for dance and literature to cultural development projects for various communities. The fund will also pay for the restoration of historical buildings and saving the cultural heritage.
The cultural fund is managed by the Arts Council, a body in the Department of Culture and Heritage established in 1963 that is part of the Ministry for Fiji Affairs. The nine members of the Arts Council are appointed for two years by the minister. They represent the art world and the various ethnic groups in Fiji.
Since 1997 Fiji has been working on a cultural policy with help from UNESCO. Art and culture are already part of Fiji's development strategy, in which the government stipulates its policy for sustainable growth. Culture affects every aspect of society, according to the document. The policy provides for a holistic approach to culture. The various government bodies involved in Fiji’s cultural heritage, for example, are to be bundled into an organization. Programs for artists are also to be streamlined. The government also wants to develop a policy for the protection of intellectual ownership and to invest more in art education and eco-tourism.
The Department for Culture and Heritage advises the government on policy issues and maintains a national culture databank. It also maintains international cultural relations and organizes Fiji’s participation in art festivals. One important event in the region is the Melanesian Arts & Cultural Festival that has been held every four years since 1998.