A three-day National Workshop on the Community-based Inventory of the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) was held on 23-25 October 2012 in Suai sub-district in Cova Lima, Timor-Leste. The workshop was jointly organized by the State Secretariat of Art and Culture of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, the Cova Lima District government and UNESCO with support from the Government of Japan through UNESCO Japanese Funds-In-Trust for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
This workshop gathered some 50 participants, including national and district culture officials, governmental officials, Suai sub-district community leaders, teachers, young traditional female dancers, local traditional musicians, and other community members of the Suai sub-district. The twelve sessions of the workshop were intended to help equip participants with basic knowledge and skills to design and facilitate a community-based inventorying process tailored to the current circumstances of Timor-Leste.
During the opening ceremony, Maria Isabel de Jesus Ximenes, the State Secretary of Art and Culture of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, highlighted the importance of joint efforts among governments, civil societies and communities to ensure that Timor-Leste’s precious intangible cultural heritage is safeguarded and passed on to the next generations. She underlined that the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage should play a key role for ensuring mutual respect, sustainable development and peace promotion in Timor-Leste and beyond.
The opening ceremony was followed by a three-day community-based inventorying workshop. This workshop introduced the participants to the key concepts of the Convention, community-based inventorying methods, free-prior-informed consent in the process of inventorying, creative processes and techniques of generating and systematizing information with the community, a community-driven sample inventorying framework and much more. As part of the workshop, participants also completed a fieldtrip to the village of Lia Na’in in Suai in order to apply theoretical knowledge to actual inventorying work.
Through these training sessions, participants acquired a broad understanding of how the Convention works and recognized diversity within a community regarding their ICH, as well as the importance of the inclusion of youth, elders and women as part of multiple voices on ICH. Participants also had an opportunity to exchange views on the diverse opinions concerning the community-based inventorying and to share their knowledge experiences on the ways to record ICH locally.