The year will see a series of initiatives and events across Europe to enable people to become closer to and more involved with their cultural heritage. Cultural heritage shapes our identities and everyday lives. It surrounds us in Europe's towns and cities, natural landscapes and archaeological sites. It is not only found in literature, art and objects, but also in the crafts we learn from our ancestors, the stories we tell to our children, the food we enjoy in company and the films we watch and recognise ourselves in.
Why cultural heritage?
Cultural heritage has a universal value for us as individuals, communities and societies. It is important to preserve and pass on to future generations. You may think of heritage as being ‘from the past’ or static, but it actually evolves though our engagement with it. What is more, our heritage has a big role to play in building the future of Europe. That is one reason why we want to reach out to young people in particular during the European Year.
Cultural heritage comes in many shapes and forms.
- tangible – for example buildings, monuments, artefacts, clothing, artwork, books, machines, historic towns, archaeological sites.
- intangible – practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills - and the associated instruments, objects and cultural spaces - that people value. This includes language and oral traditions, performing arts, social practices and traditional craftsmanship.
- natural – landscapes, flora and fauna.
- digital – resources that were created in digital form (for example digital art or animation) or that have been digitalised as a way to preserve them (including text, images, video, records).
Through cherishing our cultural heritage, we can discover our diversity and start an inter-cultural conversation about what we have in common. So what better way to enrich our lives than by interacting with something so central to who we are?
Cultural heritage should not be left to decay, deterioration or destruction. This is why in 2018, we search for ways to celebrate and preserve it.
What is happening in 2018?
The year belongs to all to experience, appreciate, and enjoy cultural heritage. Everyone is invited to join the thousands of activities taking place across Europe to involve people more closely with cultural heritage.
Each Member State has appointed a National Coordinator to implement the year and coordinate events and projects at local, regional and national level.
Key Stakeholders from the cultural sector as well as civil society organisations are closely involved in the year’s activities.
At European level, all EU institutions are committed to making the year a success. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, as well as the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee will organise events to celebrate the year and launch activities focusing on cultural heritage.
In addition, the EU will fund projects supporting cultural heritage. A dedicated call for cooperation projects relating to the year has been launched under the Creative Europe programme. A wealth of additional opportunities will be available under Erasmus+, Europe for Citizens, Horizon 2020, and other EU programmes.
To make sure our efforts leave an imprint beyond 2018, the Commission, in collaboration with the Council of Europe, UNESCO, and other partners, will be running ten long-term impact projects. These will include activities with schools, research on innovative solutions for re-using heritage buildings or the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural goods. The objective is to help trigger real change in the way we enjoy, protect and promote heritage, making sure that the European Year benefits citizens in the longer term.