The EEA and Norway Grants were on stage during the first ever EU Cultural Heritage Summit held in Berlin on 18-24 June. More than 1 500 people came to the capital of Germany attracted by one common thing: culture. This summit was one of the main events in the framework of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 and it gathered representatives from cultural heritage institutions, universities, museums and heritage sites, as well as authors, journalists and representatives of a number of European countries, who exchanged their thoughts in more than 100 panels and activities. At the event, an EEA Grants funded project received the prestigious EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award in the presence of the European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, Europa Nostra’s President, Maestro Plácido Domingo and the Federal President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, among others.
Recognition to EEA Grants cultural heritage projects
Since 2009, the EEA and Norway Grants have provided support to a wide range of high-quality projects in the cultural sector, 10 of which were recognised by the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/ Europa Nostra Award since 2012. The awards go beyond a tangible prize. They also acknowledge that the EEA and Norway Grants are empowering people to care for cultural heritage and are contributing to social and economic development.
Dr. Karolina Solcova, PR specialist at Charles University (Czech Republic) was in Berlin to receive Europa Nostra Award for a cultural heritage conservation for an 11th award winner funded through the EEA Grants: the restoration of St. Wenceslas Rotunda of the Charles University as part of the UNESCO world heritage area in Prague.
“The EEA Grants were a great opportunity. It was really the only way to do the restoration work, so we are really grateful,” said Dr. Solcova.
That initial funding leads to longer-term results was showed by the Parques de Sintra, another award winner on stage in Berlin. This project built on experience and capacity initiated by EEA funding for the Palace of Monserrate and the Chalet and Garden of the Countess of Edla which reopened to the public in 2010 following a restoration process supported by the EEA Grants. Eight years later, Parques de Sintra has expanded considerably and has gained public recognition, even winning the Public Choice Europa Nostra Award 2018.
“We were small when we started. With the EEA Grants we could contract more people. The experience with the Grants allowed us to grow and to be where we are today,” said Nuno Oliveira, Director for Natural Heritage at Parques de Sintra, who was in Berlin to receive another EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award for yet another restoration project.
Why is support to cultural heritage important?
If we want to preserve cultural heritage, it is essential to increase awareness about our shared European history. By supporting high-quality cultural heritage projects, the EEA Grants create capacity for inter-cultural dialogue on what brings us together as Europeans. In the face of EU’s current political and social challenges, the cultural sector needs a boost to increase awareness about our shared European history.
“By understanding the past we can discuss the future. Through dialogue and cooperation between people from different communities, projects that seemed impossible have been realised. By working together, bonds between communities have been forged. I am pleased that the EEA and Norway Grants have contributed to strengthening dialogue between cultures and communities.”, said Ingrid Schulerud, Ambassador of Norway to Belgium, who presented the Grants’ contribution to social and economic cohesion during the European Policy Debate in Berlin.
In the 2009-2014 funding period, more than €220 million were allocated to culture programmes resulting in close to 500 projects across 14 beneficiary countries. In the 2014-2021 funding period, the EEA and Norway Grants will continue to support quality heritage-led regeneration and cultural cooperation. The support will help address challenges recognised at local, national and European levels . The support will contribute, among other things, to the restoration of buildings, skills development, job creation, greater cultural cooperation and understanding, knowledge and experience exchanges, greater access to culture and improved sustainable cultural tourism.
The future of European cultural heritage is at stake
The first ever EU Cultural Heritage summit gathered together high-level representatives of public authorities, Ministers of Culture, members of regional and national parliaments and representatives of the European Union institutions such as the European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, Luca Jahier, President of the European Economic and Social Committee or Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions. The Summit concluded in the presentation of ‘The Berlin Call to Action’, a European Agenda and Action Plan for Cultural Heritage, calling for seven actions to put cultural heritage in the center of Europe’s policies and priorities.
Open calls for funding
The first open call for funding of culture activities in the new EEA and Norway Grants funding period (RO-culture) will be launched in July. A match-making event that aims to contribute to the development of joint projects between cultural actors in Romania and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will take place in Bucharest 12-13 September. The registration for the event is open until 6 August and funding is available for travelling to the event.