Centre of Visual Arts and Research in Nicosia receives Europe’s highest heritage award

The Centre of Visual Arts and Research (CVAR) in Nicosia, Grand Prix winner of the 2017 EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award, Europe’s top honour in the field, was celebrated at its premises on 14 September. It was a moving ceremony that brought together some 350 people from all communities of Cyprus. Ioannis Kasoulides, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Costas Kadis, Minister of Education and Culture, Androulla Vassiliou, Vice-President of Europa Nostra, Europe’s leading heritage organisation, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, George Markopouliotis, Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus, foreign Ambassadors and representatives of various NGOs participated in the event.

Ceremony for Centre of Visual Arts and Research, Nicosia

Androulla Vassiliou, Vice-President of Europa Nostra, expressed her pride and joy at the CVAR’s being singled out for one of the seven Grand Prix, chosen amongst the 29 winners of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards 2017, which were selected from 202 entries from 39 countries. It is in fact the first time this highest European distinction is awarded to a Cypriot project in the category Education, Training and Awareness-Raising. “This is a huge private investment for the good of the Cypriot people and of the people of Europe. The Centre of Visual Arts and Research works enthusiastically to promote a better understanding of Cyprus’ shared heritage which has had tangible results in this bi-communal city and the transparent organisational structure ensures just representation of all community members which encourages a reconciliatory atmosphere,” affirmed the Vice-President of Europa Nostra, quoting the Awards’ jury citation.

Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, thanked and congratulated Rita and Costas Severis who have dedicated a big part of their lives to helping the new generation of Cypriots to become aware of and to appreciate their rich shared heritage.

“The mission and the work of the CVAR perfectly contribute to the ambition of the European Cultural Heritage Summit which Europa Nostra will organise in June 2018 in Berlin, and it is perfectly in tune with its motto: ‘Sharing Heritage, Sharing Values’”, stated the Secretary General of Europa Nostra, in her speech.

“This is precisely what the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 should be about! Just as no community can blossom without its culture, without its cultural heritage, without its memory, without its identity, the European project cannot survive without our sense of belonging to a wider European community with a shared culture, a shared heritage, a shared memory and a European identity. A European identity which does not threaten our local or national identity but rather enriches and irrigates those different layers of our multiple identities,” added Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović.

After paying tribute to Androulla Vassiliou for her work as European Commissioner for Culture (2010-2014) and in particular for laying the groundwork for the European Year of Cultural Heritage, the Secretary General of Europa Nostra concluded her speech by expressing her hope “that the Buffer Zone of Nicosia ought to become, again, a Creative Zone of Nicosia, and that this Zone is a prime European zone where indeed the past meets the future”.

Ceremony for Centre of Visual Arts and Research, Nicosia

Costas Kadis, Minister of Education, underlined CVAR ‘s remarkable work and outstanding achievement as well as its resilience against all odds. He also congratulated the people of Cyprus who have supported and embraced the CVAR, whose work contributes in a unique manner to the preservation of cultural heritage. By supporting the prospects of peaceful coexistence, it has made itself an invaluable asset for Cyprus, its people and the people of Europe.

Costas Severis, Chairman of the Costas and Rita Severis Foundation, thanked in his acceptance speech the two main contributors to the renovation of the building, USAID and EEA Norway Grants, and looked back three years ago to the day “when the Centre of Visual Arts and Research opened its doors and started its work for peace and reconciliation, underlining our common cultural heritage, emphasising what unites and not what divides Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and all other communities in Cyprus”. Costas Severis then thanked all those involved in the running of the CVAR; its permanent staff, its volunteers and its supporters “whose contribution to what has been achieved has been immense”. Finally, he thanked Rita Severis as “this wonderful Award is the result of her passion, her vision, her knowledge and her incredible hard work.”

Kathleen Ann Doherty, Ambassador of the United States, congratulated the CVAR on its Grand Prix and its success in turning itself into a hub of activity for bringing all communities together in appreciation of their common past and thus laying the foundations for a shared, peaceful and united future.

Christina Sordina, the representative of the Embassy of Norway, emphasised how the CVAR became a vibrant institution whose activities are guided by an overarching commitment to establish contact between all communities on the island.

Ayla Gurel, member of the Board of Directors of the Costas and Rita Severis Foundation, gave an overview of the CVAR’s activities in its three years of operation as well as its objectives in providing a common platform for the exploration of the island’s cultural heritage by means of visual and creative arts as a way of promoting reconciliation and reunification.

Media Coverage

MYCY Radio
Radio interview with Europa Nostra’s Secretary General broadcast during the programme Kaleid ‘Her’ scope on 19/09/2017

Cyprus News Digest
Radio interview with Europa Nostra’s Secretary General broadcast on 15/09/2017 (00:15:14-00:28:10)

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