Cultural Agreement with the Government of Barbados and Asian nations - the Case of the Government of the People's Republic of China
Outside of the Americas Barbados has also developed strong cultural relations with countries in Asia and Africa. There has been, for example, a cultural agreement between the Government of Barbados and the People’s Republic of China since 1980. This agreement seeks to: encourage and support exchanges and cooperation between relevant institutions in the two countries; encourage mutual acquaintances of the people of both countries with the arts and culture of each other through exchange programmes; facilitate exchanges between museums, libraries and other cultural institutions of the two countries and organising the exchange of information.
This agreement has been an active one with mutual exchanges in the areas of cinema and broadcasting, festivals, cultural institutions, cultural practitioners, the granting of scholarships and cultural exchanges in the performing arts.
The Barbados – China cultural bilateral relations are strong with China providing both technical and financial assistance for the development of the cultural industries. One such area of assistance has been the construction of places associated with the performing arts, namely music, dance and theatre, as well as exhibition space for the visual arts. Places such as the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium and the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
The cultural agreement has not only been enacted through the efforts of government agencies but cultural civil society organisations have also been actively involved. This is witnessed through the work of the Barbados China Cultural Centre, a civil society organisation, which hosts the annual Fish and Dragon Festival. The Fish and Dragon Festival, which is celebrated during the Chinese New Year period, creates a space for cultural dialogue between Barbadian and Chinese Culture. The festival invites communities across Barbados to become more engaged and empowered in the relationship of friendship between Barbados and China.
The Fish and Dragon Festival is a joint initiative among the Barbados China Friendship Association, the Central Bank of Barbados and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Barbados, with support from a number of partners in the public and private sector.
The Festival seeks to educate and entertain audiences of all ages with an offering that intersects different forms of artistic expression including healing, martial, culinary, visual arts and performing arts. In 2016 the Festival hosted the China National Opera and Dance Drama Theatre.