Cultural heritage: worth the investment?
The workshop set the context by focusing on the collective responsibility Europeans have to put culture in the spotlight in terms of influencing policy debates and funding priorities. The workshop showed best practice from the EEA and Norway Grants and the European Union Regional Development Fund - Interreg of how investing in cultural heritage is a sound decision from not only an economic point of view, but also in terms of increasing social engagement and bringing citizens together. The project ‘Poles of Culture,’ a collaboration between Romania and Serbia (Interreg IPA CBC Romania-Serbia programme), showed how two regions with common challenges can capitalise on shared cultural heritage as an engine for interregional and cross border development. Through cross-border cooperation, an old cinema was transformed into a youth club and public debates on the role of cultural heritage and reurbanisation were organised. The project also helped Timisoara and Novi Sad’s successful application to become the shared European Capital of Culture in 2021. The Slovak-Norwegian project, ‘Pro Monumenta’, funded by EEA/NO grants, focused on preventive maintenance of cultural monuments in Slovakia after a Dutch model. It helped change the mindset of the importance of early preventive measures to help maintain the quality of cultural heritage sites and objects. The project helped trained and equiped mobile teams that ensured the health and maintenance of precious sites across Slovakia. ‘Second Chance,’ a project with ten partners from five central European cities (Interreg Central Europe Programme), undertook research to find a common approach to the structural changes that have occurred in Europe with the shift from industrial-based economies to post-industrial service-based economies. The project developed common lessons that could also be used in other European cities to transform post-industrial sites into a spaces for cultural and creative activities in urban districts. Pilot projects gave sites in the cities involved a “second chance”. This pilot investment resulted in follow-up investments after the project ended. The project showed the success of public-private partnerships in transforming economic support into social impact. Through the EEA and Norway Grants, Hå Gamle Prestegard in Norway collaborated with Suuremõisa manor in Estonia on the restoration and maintenance of Oberstad Lighthouse and recommendations on how to use the Suuremoisa Manor as a cultural attraction open to the public. Both partners had invaluable discussions, which have resulted in lasting Erasmus+ collaborations between Suuremõisa vocational college and Hå municipality on the restauration of Oberstad lighthouse. Students from the vocational school operating in Suuremõisa manor carried out part of the restoration works of the Obrestad Lighthouse in Norway. The workshop highlighted the role of culture in benefitting society. “It’s more than just preserving old buildings and monuments, it has real impact for people”.
Take away message
Even small projects in protecting cultural heritage often have a large impact. New knowledge and improved skills, stronger community engagement, increased dialogue and integration are examples of the potential benefits of cultural cooperation. Europe needs to put the tone on a new narrative, one in which culture is placed in the centre. Every community is part of something larger and we need to reconnect what Europe is doing. Using culture as an example is the best way to showcase this.
- Project #3: Second Chance: From pilot investment to large scale investment
- Presentation of Project #2: Cultural ambulances on the move!
- Project # 4: A transfer of knowledge - empowering a manor house whilst restoring a lighthouse
- Poles of cultures - a common heritage at the heart of cross-border cultural cooperation
“We should ask ourselves: how can we raise awareness among politicians and economists about the fact that investment into cultural heritage is always worthwhile?” - Branislav Reznik, Head of Department of Preventive Conservation, Monument Board of Slovakia.