Preserving Slovak cultural heritage
New cultural heritage projects under the EEA Grants in Slovakia were signed off at the recent Living Monuments conference which took place on 4 November at the Wedding Palace in Bytča.
Organised by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Bratislava, the Government Office of the Slovak Republic, and the Žilina Self-Governing Region, the conference presented Slovak and Norwegian experiences of restoration projects under the Slovak 'Conservation and Revitalisation of Cultural and Natural Heritage' programme.
During the conference, project contracts were signed between 11 Project Promoters and the Programme Operator – the Government Office of the Slovak Republic. The General Director of the Section of Bilateral Financial Instruments of the Government Office of the Slovak Republic, Mr Ján Krak presented projects implemented under the programme and discussed the new round of projects. He noted that the last calls for proposals, completed in late January, attracted strong interest – a total of 60 projects applications were submitted for a funding of 6 million euros.
"Unfortunately, due to the limited amount of funds, we were not able to satisfy all applicants but now we are at the beginning of the new programming period and we hope that also in this period we will obtain some additional resources", said Krak.
Social and economic benefits
The conference highlighted new opportunities in tourism and social and economic development brought by cultural heritage preservation and restoration. The General Director of the Monuments Board of the Slovak Republic Ms Katarína Kosová presented new projects supporting restored cultural heritage monuments, many of which belong to both Slovak and European cultural heritage, and the Head of the Žilina Self-governing region Mr Juraj Blanár discussed region’s involvement in the projects.
The conference was also attended by said Inga Magistad, Norwegian Ambassador to Slovakia. "The location of this conference is excellent because the Wedding Palace in Bytča was also restored from the EEA grants in the previous programming period," said Ambassador Magistad, who furthermore underlined the benefits of cultural heritage conservation for European cohesion, economy, tourism, and job creation.
Along with Iceland and Liechtenstein, Norway has supported the conservation and revitalisation of the cultural and historical heritage in Slovakia through EEA grants for several years. The Norwegian Embassy in Bratislava is ready to support this process by both providing financial support for projects and assisting the search for Norwegian project partners within the grant scheme.
The conference concluded with the opening of a photo exhibition 'Heritage Reborn' which captures monuments restored in Slovakia with support from the EEA and Norway Grants over the last five years.