Preserving cultural heritage
A large number of key landmarks and historical buildings were restored and made accessible for local communities and tourists.
Culture is widely acknowledged as a key driver for Europe’s economy. Studies show that the cultural sector is a significant contributor to growth and employment. This is reflected in wider policy-making. In its “Cultural Agenda”, the EU focuses on promoting culture as a catalyst for creativity, while the Council of Europe emphasises the value of cultural heritage for sustainable development.
While the cultural sector is expanding rapidly in many parts of Europe, other areas are being left behind. When the grant schemes were set up in 2004, little EU funding was available for cultural heritage and domestic funding was insufficient to cover the extensive needs. Support from the EEA and Norway Grants has helped to fill this gap and reinforce exchange and cultural dialogue. In the previous funding period, 2004-2009, was a priority sector in all beneficiary states, representing around 20% of the total funding.
Around 75 % of the projects centred on the renovation of historical buildings, with close to 150 cultural heritage sites having been restored. One example of such a project is the restoration of manor houses in Estonia. In the heyday of manor houses, Estonia boasted close to 1 500 of these historical monuments, but during the last century, most of the buildings fell into decay. The Grants supported nine separate projects to complete renovation work on the manor houses, initiated a decade earlier, successfully transforming the building into modern educational and cultural centres.
In total, 221 projects and three funds-covering a wide cross-section of issues- benefitted from €258 million in grant support. 38 of these was implemented in cooperation with entities in the beneficiary and donor states, including municipalities, museums and cultural and research institutions.