The Comisión para la Salvaguardia del Patrimonio Cultural Inmaterial (Commission for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage, hereafter ‘the Commission’) is the primary competent body charged with the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, established in 2004 by Resolution 126 (December 2004). Comprising several institutions, it is charged with formulating the policy on the safeguarding and promotion of intangible cultural heritage through a multidisciplinary approach, identifying the expressions and manifestations of intangible cultural heritage in the country, and making the relevant decisions to cope with dangers that threaten their continuous safeguarding, development and transmission. The Consejo Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural (National Council of Cultural Heritage), the lead agency within the Commission, plays a key role in the identification, inscription and management of intangible cultural heritage and, through its museum network, conducts social activities aimed at different kinds of audiences in which tradition-bearers are an essential element.
Besides Law No. 1 for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, in force since 1977, the definition of legal instruments for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage has become a priority. The creation of the Commission in 2004 was an essential means of achieving this goal. However, a national policy to regulate this issue is still to be defined with the involvement of all corresponding stakeholders.
Regarding training in intangible cultural heritage management, the Centro Nacional de Superación para la Cultura (National Centre for Advanced Cultural Training), under the Ministry of Culture, conducts courses on intangible cultural heritage for researchers and decision-makers. The Consejo Nacional de Casas de Cultura (National Council of Culture Houses) also organizes training workshops on implementing the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage for officials, researchers and tradition-bearers.
Intangible cultural heritage-related documentation is housed in the Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de la Cultura Cubana Juan Marinello (Juan Marinello Cuban Cultural Research Institute), the Documentation Centre of which has a large collection of materials available to researchers and students, both in person and online. The National Council of Culture Houses publishes information on intangible cultural heritage and provides access to research carried out by the various territories and communities. Another institution working on intangible cultural heritage documentation and publications is the Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de la Música (Cuban Music Research and Development Centre).
The National Council of Cultural Heritage is the body in charge of establishing the methodology for drawing up inventories of intangible cultural heritage, as well as tangible heritage, both movable and immovable. The primary inventory for cultural heritage is the Automated Inventory System for Cuban Cultural Heritage, which has a section devoted to intangible cultural heritage. The criteria for inclusion in the intangible cultural heritage section are based on Article 2.1 of the 2003 Convention and include those elements that are: recreated by communities, groups or individuals; provide them with a sense of identity and continuity; and are imbued with human creativity and a sense of belonging. The inventory includes an evaluation of viability through a mandatory declaration made by the community in the case of an endangered expression. The Automated Inventory System should be updated systematically and annual reviews should be conducted by specialists of the national network in municipal museums who provide information to the corresponding Provincial Heritage Centres and consolidate it in the National Inventory.
A second inventory is that of the National System of Culture Houses Inventory, which is administered by the National Council of Culture Houses. This shares the same criteria as the Automated Inventory System, although the question of viability is addressed by determining whether the manifestation is currently in force and which forms of transmission are used to ensure its continuity. The National System Inventory is regularly updated by specialists from the National Council of Culture Houses working in each territory at the municipal level.
Both inventories are drawn up and updated following an exchange with communities at the municipal level. The information is then collected at the provincial level and, finally, each inventory is consolidated. Community participation is ensured through different techniques (observation, interviews, photographs, participatory videos and audio recordings). Once the information has been collected, it is introduced on the inventory registration card. Thus far, non-governmental organizations have not participated in the identification and definition of intangible cultural heritage.
Cuba has taken measures to integrate the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage into planning and development programmes. Cultural institutions and regional authorities coordinate with economic sectors to support festivities, craft events, etc., by including them in the local development programmes as a way to achieve sustainable development, provide income generation and increase the well-being of communities. Some NGOs, such as the Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (UNEAC, Union of Cuban Writers and Artists), the Fernando Ortiz Foundation and the Antonio Núñez Jiménez Foundation have worked on integrating intangible cultural heritage comprehensively into the policies of non-cultural institutions, to promote cooperation between their experts and the authorities and to design appropriate capacity-building programmes.
In addition to the process of national inventorying, which itself has an important awareness-raising role, other measures to ensure the recognition of, respect for and enhancement of intangible cultural heritage are numerous. Tradition bearers are formally recognized through the Living Memory Award of the Juan Marinello Cuban Cultural Research Institute and an Award is granted by the National Council of Culture Houses. Other promotional activities include holding festivals and fiestas, as well as craftsmanship fairs held annually at the community level and also at the international level. Other entities organize national and international events to promote research and debate on intangible cultural heritage, and to publish periodicals and brochures of intangible cultural heritage research. Several TV programmes devoted to intangible cultural heritage have been produced, including a cycle of interviews with specialists and bearers on different elements. However, while musical and dance expressions and traditional festivals have been privileged, others such as oral traditions or knowledge associated with nature, agriculture and fishing have been poorly promoted.
In terms of formal education, primary schools organize weekly workshops where children can express themselves and become tradition-bearers. The University of Havana has created a Cultural Heritage Department that emphasizes the teaching of intangible cultural heritage, and the History of Art and Sociology courses also address different traditional elements associated with religion, popular festivities or craftsmanship production. The Centro Nacional de Conservación, Restauración y Museología (CENCREM, National Centre of Preservation, Restoration and Museology) has organized courses highlighting the role played by intangible cultural heritage in society, and communities themselves also organize workshops on craftsmanship, music, and cuisine. Traditional Popular Culture Workshops are organized to encourage the recognition of intangible cultural heritage and foster dialogue and exchanges among communities, cultural promoters, specialists, etc. The Programme for Sustainable Social and Cultural Development organizes workshops (lectures, master classes and practical demonstrations) in community spaces in mountainous and remote areas with the participation of practitioners.
Cuba is active in bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation, participating fully in the Regional Centre of Intangible Cultural Heritage for Latin America (CRESPIAL), a Category 2 Centre under the auspices of UNESCO based in Peru, particularly in its Afro-descendant Cultural Universe project. Intangible cultural heritage-oriented training activities have been included in cooperation agreements with other regional countries (e.g. projects for implementing the Cuba-Venezuela Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement). Among these actions, it is worth mentioning a set of courses on Local Heritage Assessment and Promotion (the ALBA Cultural Project), a Latin American and Caribbean Community Heritage Meeting held between 2010 and 2011.
Tumba Francesa was incorporated on the Representative List in 2008, having originally been proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2003. Its inscription has created the space for a closer dialogue between the different cultural communities of the Tumba Francesa and has allowed them to consolidate their role in the safeguarding of this heritage. To foster intergenerational transmission, projects have been designed for children (e.g. a project for children eight to twelve years of age) and teaching materials on the Tumba Francesa developed for fifth and sixth grade students. For the preparation of the present report, provincial cultural divisions held interactive workshops in the three key provinces where Tumba Francesa is practised, with practitioners and institutions involved in safeguarding and experts.