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European Commission

Press release

Brussels / Athens, 16 June 2013

EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards: 2013 public choice and Grand Prix winners announced

The winners of the 2013 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards will be honoured this evening at a ceremony in Athens in the presence of Karolos Papoulias, the President of Greece, Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Plácido Domingo, the world-renowned tenor and President of Europa Nostra. The ceremony takes place in the Odeion of Herodes Atticus, at the foot of the Acropolis, in front of an audience of up to 5 000 people. The winners of the public choice award and 'Grand Prix' are being announced for the first time.

The public choice award winner, chosen in an online poll from among the 30 laureates for 2013 (see IP/13/279), is The Propylaea Central Building in Athens. The jury for the conservation section of the awards praised the high quality of the craftsmanship employed in an "exemplary project which succeeded not only in rescuing this iconic monument of European culture but also in enhancing its inherent formal and social values".

It will be a double celebration for Greece this evening because the Committee for the Conservation of the Acropolis Monuments is among the seven Grand Prix winners selected by expert juries. The other six (jury comments below) are:

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Commissioner Vassiliou stated: "Tonight we are celebrating exceptional examples of conservation, research, dedicated service, education, training and awareness-raising. This year the choice was particularly challenging. The outstanding quality and diversity of the winning projects highlight the extraordinary skills and passion which epitomize Europe’s cultural heritage sector – a sector we must support and protect for future generations. Heritage is not about 'glorifying' our past. It is a huge asset for our present and future; it is one of the main factors that makes Europe the world's top tourist destination, contributing significantly to our economy and helping to create jobs in our cities and regions."

Europa Nostra’s President, Plácido Domingo, added: "Athens, the cradle of Europe’s democracy, is the perfect setting in which to pay tribute not only to the winners of our awards, but also to all the citizens and communities that are strongly engaged in safeguarding our cultural and natural heritage. There is no place more fitting for a celebration of the European Year of Citizens and Europa Nostra’s 50th anniversary than Athens. Tonight, at the Odeion of Herodes Atticus, we shall also enjoy an evocative performance by renowned artists, based on the rich musical and literary legacy of Greece. Our entire evening in Athens will be a true ode to the Europe of Culture.

Background

The European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards has been organised by Europa Nostra and the European Commission since 2002. The awards ceremony is held under the auspices of Greece's President, Karolos Papoulias, and jointly organised with Elliniki Etairia, Europa Nostra’s representation in Greece. The ceremony coincides with Europa Nostra’s 50th Anniversary Congress.

The 30 winners of the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards 2013 were selected from among nearly 200 projects nominated by 30 countries. Specialist juries made up of independent experts from across Europe assess the nominated projects in four categories – 1) conservation, 2) research, 3) dedicated service, and 4) education, training and awareness-raising. All the winners receive a plaque or trophy. The seven Grand Prix winners also receive €10 000 each.

Cultural heritage brings a significant contribution to job creation and growth. An important part of the cultural and creative sectors, cultural heritage provides jobs for around 8 million people in the EU and contributes up to 4.5% of Europe's GDP. Spending on conservation of cultural heritage by public and private bodies is worth an estimated €5 billion a year. Figures published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that 40% of worldwide tourism has a cultural dimension. Cultural heritage is also a key resource for sustainable development and social cohesion.

The awards are supported by the EU Culture Programme, which has invested more than €30 million in co-financing heritage-related projects since 2007. Other EU programmes also provide support: the European Regional Development Fund has allocated €6 billion for culture in 2007-2013. Of this, €3 billion supports the protection and preservation of cultural heritage, €2.2 billion aids the development of cultural infrastructure and €775 million co-funds cultural services such as vocational training, arts and heritage education. A further €150 million has been made available through EU Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development since 1998.

Europa Nostra is a pan-European NGO which acts as the voice of cultural heritage. It represents 250 non-governmental and non-profit organisations from more than 50 European countries, with a combined membership of at least 5 million people. It also counts on the support of over 150 associate public authorities and corporations and more than 1 500 individual members. Its vast network of professionals and volunteers are committed to safeguarding Europe’s cultural heritage for present and future generations.

The 2013 award ceremony in Athens is part of Europa Nostra's annual European Heritage Congress and coincides with its 50th anniversary.

The deadline to nominate projects for the next awards is 9 September 2013. Next year's ceremony will take place in Vienna on 5 May 2014.

For more information

Europa Nostra: photos videos

European Commission: Culture

Androulla Vassiliou's website

MEMO/13/561 Frequently Asked Questions

Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU

Contacts:

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58); Twitter: @DennisAbbott

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)

For Europa Nostra

Elena Bianchi +31 703024058, Twitter: @europanostra

Giuseppe Simone +31 703024059

ANNEX

Jury's comments on the seven Grand Prix projects

Category 1 – Conservation

Tallinn Seaplane Harbour, ESTONIA

The Tallinn Seaplane Harbour, begun in 1912, is one of Europe’s most remarkable aviation monuments. Its hangars are thought to be the first large-scale reinforced concrete shell structure in the world. The Jury recognised the exemplary and technically complex restoration of the structure which seemed beyond all hope of repair. Sheltering a maritime museum - the most visited one in Estonia since its opening in May 2012 - the restored seaplane hangars also play a key role in the regeneration of a hitherto run-down neighbourhood of Tallinn.

Roman Theatre of Medellin, SPAIN

The ruined and partially-buried early Roman theatre of Medellin was transformed into a major cultural heritage site. The theatre was comprehensively excavated and conserved, and made accessible to tourists. Artefacts uncovered are on display in local museums. The Jury was impressed by the thoroughness and importance of this project, which demonstrates that even in a remote corner of the continent, some of the constituent features of European culture can be made manifest to enrich both the local area and our broader collective heritage.

Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, UNITED KINGDOM

Built as a private villa on the Thames, Horace Walpole’s ‘plaything house’ was in domestic use until 1923, when it was sold to a teacher training institution. Despite the villa’s critical place in architectural history, as the cradle of the Gothic revival, Strawberry Hill was seriously neglected, falling into decay and suffering from poor repairs. The Jury applauded the beautiful conservation of this exceptionally influential place and admired the courage and commitment shown by local volunteers and their professional partners.

Category 2 – Research

Restoration of the Exceptional Machines of Wielemans-Ceuppens Brewery, Brussels, BELGIUM

The Wielemans-Ceuppens brewery symbolises the Brussels area, the only place in the world where a craft beer (‘gueuze’) is brewed. Built in 1894 and 1905, these machines have not survived elsewhere in Europe and one of them is unique in the world. The Jury found this study, which aimed to evaluate the unique character of the machinery and test the feasibility of restoring it for teaching purposes, particularly interesting. The result is a programme of training leading to professional qualification, anchored within the plan for the restoration of this historic European industrial site.

Category 3 – Dedicated Service

Association for the Promotion of Art and Culture in the Eastern Part of Germany (VKF), Berlin, GERMANY

Founded by students in 1992 to draw attention to historic architecture seriously neglected behind the former Iron Curtain, the VKF has widened its sights to include workshops for the preservation of endangered heritage in Poland and Romania. The plan is to work further in Central and Eastern Europe. The association has already conducted some 40 workshops. On each occasion, 30 to 50 people from all over Germany travel to a historical site and worked there in cooperation with the local community. The Jury was much impressed by this exemplary initiative of young volunteers.

Committee for the Conservation of the Acropolis Monuments (ESMA), Athens, GREECE

For 37 years, the Committee for the Preservation of the Acropolis Monuments has carefully planned and guided the conservation of one of the most iconic sites of European culture. The results of their advice can be seen in the quality of the work, its reversible nature, the use of compatible new materials as well as traditional marble cutting techniques, scholarly research and documentation of the work, all to the highest standard. The Jury saw the voluntary work from this interdisciplinary body of top specialists as an outstanding example of dedicated service to monument protection.

Category 4 – Education, Training and Awareness-Raising

SOS Azulejo Project, Loures, PORTUGAL

Portuguese historic and artistic tiles (azulejos) stand out in the world of cultural heritage for their special depth of design and colour. But they have been victims of massive losses in the last 20 years through of theft and lack of conservation. The Portuguese Judiciary Police Museum, in partnership with various organisations, initiated the SOS Azulejo Project in 2007. Since then, there has been a decrease of 80% in registered tile thefts. The fact that so much has been accomplished without additional budget is an indication of the creativity, passion and dedication of the people involved, stressed the Jury.


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