By PETER ESILA
PAPUA New Guineas unique culture is the source of our identity, strength, guidance and prosperity that also shapes today’s traditional and contemporary societies.
The organisation responsible for driving and preserving the country’s culture is the National Cultural Commission (NCC) with its staff led by executive director Steven Kilanda doing its best to ensure PNG gains economic benefits from culture.
The NCC hosted a farewell reception for the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Isi Henry Leonard who is the Samarai-Murua MP, as he prepares for the general election.
Kilanda has thanked Leonard for driving and supporting NCC in its work that has achieved a lot in a short space of time.
“Following the 2021 performance review of government departments and agencies, the Department of Personnel Management (DPM) gave highest approval rating to PNGNCC for satisfactory performance. Understandably, gains can easily evaporate if complacency, mediocrity and lack of will interfere with our priorities in 2022.”
“The important thing for public machinery is good management of finance and human resources. Only then, you will achieve results; you can see that an organisation will progress,” Kilanda said.
“That is why we have achieved a lot of things in this very short period of time, all the little money that they gave us, we have strategically used it. Also we have been working with stakeholders helping us, like Tourism Promotion Authority that is assisting us in some of the things that we are doing in terms of the renovations, programmes and policy. And we thank them.
“DMP’s vote of confidence is illustrative of exemplary achievements in spite of funding difficulties and of operating under the duress of global Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Performance under such depressed unpredictable conditions required frequent critical analysis, adjustments and strategic prioritising of activities arising from senior management and project steering committee meetings.
“We are intent on continuing with this pragmatic approach that focuses on deliverables imposed by the challenges of Covid-19, and we hope to gain the support of government and our partners for our operations and projects.
He said institution reforms was also important.
“The reforms included boosting our internal systems, capacity development of our cultural institutions and fostering partnerships with provinces.
More of these reforms and outreach programmes are expected this year and beyond when the Cultural Policy comes up for implementation.
“We will continue to carry on the NCC’s broader mandated functions of safeguarding, development and promoting the cultural heritage of PNG.
“That we are also conscious of the need to promote plans that seeks out as well as sustaining the growth of cultural and creative industries.
“Collaboration is vital for achieving results, thus NCC sees itself partnering more and more with provinces through signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for subnational governments to take full responsibility on advancement of culture and arts at their level as this is something foreseen in the Cultural Policy.
So far NCC has MoU’s with Enga, Milne Bay, Central, West New Britain and Madang.
“We can do more by focusing on our goal of harnessing, developing and sustaining the unique arts and cultures of PNG.
“Our two objectives are attainable and these are for sustainable cultural production and exhibitions in the creative and cultural industries and for enacting effective governance and institutional mechanisms that protects and transmits our cultural heritage.
“There was major improvement in audit reforms 2022 and 2021 unlike in the previous years as well as completion of asset inventory and valuation of properties in Port Moresby and Goroka (NCC asset value at K16 million).
“Some of the programmes achieved include register, develop and launch over 77 festivals and cultural shows around the country (over 70 per cent of festivals and cultural shows are in remote setting)
“We have developed and supported the Nete Lyiam Cultural Festival, Nuku Yam festival, Bali Vitu festival, Mailu Cultural show, Siwai Cultural show, Bundi Komba festival Min Mama Bilum festival,” Kilanda said.
“We gave financial assistance to cultural festivals and shows around the country, register 30 cultural groups, establish eight community cultural centres, five cultural documentary films and supporting cultural education in the country.
“The MoU’s with the development partners includes with the Indian High Commission, British High Commission, French Embassy and engaging with other development partners for their support as well.
“The other MOUs with stakeholders are with PNG Fashion and Design Week, PNG Linguistic Society, University of PNG Arts Faculty, National Youth Development Authority, Port Moresby Arts Theater, Melanesian Inc and the Native Arts Fashion Academy.
“Other achievements include the ratification of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) 2005 Convention on Cultural Diversity.”
The NCc also supported Eastern Highlands Cultural Centre in Kainantu with K20,000 for its renovations and the Enga Cultural Centre (Take Anda) with K50,000 for its renovations.
It also supported the redevelopment of Yalum rural arstrip in Nete Lyaim region of Enga with K10,00 and helped build four classrooms for Nete Lyaim Cultural Primary School with K20,000, using bush materials.
Kilanda said NCC looked forward to continue to safeguard, develop and promote the cultural heritage of PNG.