St. Eustatius Monuments Foundation (SEMF) became one of the founding members of the Dutch Caribbean Heritage Platform when its director Walter Hellebrand signed the agreement for this new cooperation last week in Curaçao, together with representatives of heritage foundations from Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire and St. Maarten. This reports The Daily Herald. Expressing his appreciation and support for this initiative, spouse of Princess Margriet of the Dutch royal family and former chairman of the National Restoration Fund in the Netherlands Pieter van Vollenhoven joined the signatories at the ceremony. He commented that the conservation of the built heritage of the islands is essential for the preservation of the unique identity of each island and stressed its role in stimulating tourism. He commended the initiators for looking beyond their shores and pooling expertise to strengthen their own efforts.
Director of the Dutch National Restoration Fund (NRF) Pieter Siebinga also signed the founding agreement as an endorsement of the new platform. The platform’s founding resulted from a decision taken on Bonaire in February 2013 by SEMF, Foundation Monumentenfonds Curaçao, Foundation Monumentenzorg Curaçao, N.V. Stadsherstel Willlemstad, and Rancho Foundation on Aruba, St. Maarten Heritage Foundation and Foundation Monumentenzorg Bonaire on the initiative of Director of Foundation Monumentenfonds Aruba Anne Witsenburg-De Jong. Fundashon
Pro Monumentu and DoCoMoMo of Curaçao and St. Maarten Monument Preservation Foundation joined the original founders during the meeting in Curaçao. Saba Island Governor Jonathan Johnson was also present at the meeting to be informed and introduce the platform on Saba.
The aims of the platform are to exchange knowledge, expertise and information; create more awareness of the need for monument preservation amongst the people, visitors and governments of the islands; facilitate international representation and extend the networks of each organisation. The chairmanship and secretariat of the platform will rotate every two years between the islands. Foundation Monumentenfonds Aruba will be the first with Witsenburg-De Jong as the first chairperson. Every two years, the chairing foundation will host a conference for platform members on its own island.