Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 18.COM 8.B.1

The Committee

  1. Takes note that the Netherlands has nominated Rotterdam Summer Carnival (No. 01870) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The Rotterdam Summer Carnival is a multicultural celebration that unites participants from the Caribbean and European Netherlands, as well as ethnic minority groups from Central and South America and Africa living in the Netherlands. The event includes a street parade, a brass band competition and a festival market featuring Caribbean food. The practice is transmitted informally through preparations and participation in the carnival. Carnival groups come together to prepare floats, music and decorations based on a specific theme. The preparations take place at the home of a group leader or in a community centre, and the music and dance styles chosen are closely connected to the countries of origin of the participants. The floats and costumes are constructed in a large, shared space, allowing the groups to exchange and transmit knowledge and skills related to welding, carpentry, design, and recycling materials. Several workshops, such as on how to become a carnival queen, organize a carnival group and raise funds for the event, also exist. The Rotterdam Summer Carnival is tied to people’s cultural roots and their emancipation, bolstering individuality, expression and self-worth. By uniting groups of different backgrounds, it also fosters acceptance of and respect for diverse cultural traditions, promoting dialogue and social cohesion.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   The Rotterdam Summer Carnival includes the election of a Queen, a warm-up event, a festival market with Caribbean food, and a street parade with about twenty-five carnival groups. Bearers and practitioners differ greatly with regards to their geographical backgrounds, age and gender. The different Summer Carnival groups form teams with costume designers, decorators, sewers, carpenters and other technicians. Other practitioners include orchestras, brass bands, DJs, volunteers, market stall holders, competition jurors, and about half a million spectators. Knowledge and skills are passed down; primarily informally, by participating in the event from an early age. Homes, studios and community centres also serve as places of knowledge exchange. The element has a multi-layered cultural significance, tied to people’s cultural roots. It fosters spirituality, unity and strength, serving as a means of creative and artistic expression for dispossessed people and a celebration of emancipation from slavery. The element also promotes social cohesion and mutual tolerance between the various population groups in the highly multicultural city of Rotterdam.

R.2:   Inscription of the element would highlight the diversity of intangible cultural heritage and its dynamism, and how it is embraced by groups of different origins, including migrants. It would show that, as result of migration, intangible cultural heritage can lead to shared expressions and experiences in new locations in the world, while demonstrating the power of artistic innovation and creativity. At the national level, inscription would show that people take their traditions with them when they migrate to other countries or regions, giving intangible cultural heritage in the Netherlands a broader, more inclusive value and significance. At the local level, inscription would further underscore the potential for intangible cultural heritage to strengthen social cohesion and inclusion, and the importance of the support of local authorities.

R.3:   Past and current safeguarding measures entail transmission, training and promotion. State support comes from the city level (by providing grants and meeting safety requirements) and the national level (for instance, the State-funded Dutch Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage provides workshops for communities concerned, and the Dutch government provides grants and funds a skill-enhancement project). The proposed safeguarding measures include activities on innovation, renewal and youth management, and details about legal forms and financing, pandemic-related restrictions, safety requirements, grants and sponsors, and international exchanges. These measures were drawn up with communities, groups and individuals, and highlight the need to combat potentially undesirable effects from inscription, such as over-crowdedness or over-commercialization.

R.4:   Community participation in the nomination process is part of the bottom-up procedure that is in place in the Netherlands. A working group was established with five representatives of the Summer Carnival, as well as two staff from the Dutch Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage and a representative of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Feedback was provided to a broader group of practitioners, including to group leaders and group members at meetings and via e-mail and newsletters. The consent letters provide ample proof that communities gave free, prior and informed consent for the inscription of the element.

R.5:   The Rotterdam Summer Carnival has been listed in the Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Netherlands since 2016. The inventory is maintained by the Dutch Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage. Following an application procedure by practitioners of intangible heritage who desire their heritage to be part of the Inventory, an independent review committee assesses and advises on inscription. Procedures for updating, adding and revising information are adequately described, and the updates take place every three years. For instance, the nomination file for the Summer Carnival was re-evaluated and updated in 2019.

  1. Decides to inscribe Rotterdam Summer Carnival on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Party for nominating an element that promotes social cohesion and respect among different communities, including migrants;
  3. Further commends the State Party for designing safeguarding measures to address potential challenges to the element such as over-crowdedness or over-commercialization.