Creative Session on Communicating Heritage with historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes held in Berlin

Communication and heritage experts from several European countries discussed imaginative and innovative ways of communicating about heritage and engaging citizens at a Creative Session held on the afternoon of 20 June in Berlin. Bettany Hughes, historian, author and broadcaster from the United Kingdom, was the keynote speaker of the Creative Session ‘Communicating Heritage in the 21st Century’. The event was organised by Europa Nostra in cooperation with its corporate partner Bertelsmann, the global media company based in Germany, in the framework of European Cultural Heritage Summit.

Berlin Summit 2018 - Creative Session at Bertelsmann

In her introductory remarks, Helen Müller, Head of Cultural Affairs and Corporate History of Bertelsmann, emphasised that the company supports numerous activities for the protection of cultural heritage, from the digital restoration of silent films with the “UFA Film Nights” to exhibitions of the Archivio Ricordi, one of the largest musical archives for opera worldwide.

The Creative Session was opened with an inspirational conversation with Bettany Hughes. Over the last 30 years, she has brought history to life and introduce a wider public to the many multidimensional stories of Europe’s heritage. Bettany Hughes has written and presented over 50 TV and radio documentaries – for the BBC, Channel 4 and Discovery, among others – which have been seen and listened to by over 250 million people worldwide. She received the Helena Vaz da Silva European Award 2018 for her unique contribution to communicating Europe’s history and cultural heritage (read press release).

“In the early 1990s during my first meeting at the BBC, a producer said to me: ‘Nobody is interested in history anymore; nobody watches history TV programmes anymore; and, last but not least, nobody wants to be lectured by a woman. I think it is fair to say that this producer was proven wrong,” recalled Bettany Hughes.

“We understand the world by telling relevant stories. Making television programmes requires an incredible exercise of comprising ideas into its essence. It is a very challenging yet very reinvigorating way of telling our shared stories. It give us an unrivalled opportunity to reach brand-new audiences,” she stated.

“From Prehistory onwards, Europe has not been an institution, it is a space where ideas can be exchanged and nourished without borders or boundaries. Heritage and history help us to remember and to think better. ‘To peace and to life’ feels to me a pretty good motto for the European Year of Cultural Heritage. What should be given to Europe is peace and life,” concluded Bettany Hughes.

Berlin Summit 2018 - Creative Session at Bertelsmann

Bastien Goullard and Romain Delaume, Co-Founders of the heritage crowdfunding platform Dartagnans (France), Pavlos Chatzigrigoriou, Digital Heritage Expert and Developer of HERMeS (Greece), Dr. Christoph Kucklick, Editor in Chief of GEO Magazine (Germany), and Prof. Dr. Matthias Wemhoff, Director of the Museum of Prehistory and Early History in Berlin and TV presenter (Germany), had a fruitful exchange of views on the topic ‘The Future is Now: Communicating Cultural Heritage in the 2020s’.

Berlin Summit 2018 - Creative Session at Bertelsmann

Emanuel Rotstein, Director Production A+E Networks Germany (Germany), Marshall Marcus, CEO of the European Union Youth Orchestra and President of Sistema Europe (United Kingdom/Italy), Janne Teller, Author and Ambassador for the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 (Denmark), Prof. Dr. Markus Hilgert, Secretary General of the Kulturstiftung der Länder (Germany), and Frederick Baker, Virtual Reality Filmmaker, media scholar and archeologist (Austria/UK), contributed to the panel debate ‘Culture to the Rescue: Building Bridges through Heritage and the Arts’.

Following the two panel debates, Dorota Nigge, Team Leader European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, Directorate-General for Education and Culture of European Commission, presented the main initiatives and results of the European Year. Among them is the Torch of Heritage and Culture initiative, set up by the Future for Religious Heritage, which was introduced by its Council Secretary Lilian Grootswagers at the Creative Session.

In her concluding remarks, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, emphasized that cultural heritage is a powerful tool to tell the story of Europe in a more creative and engaging way. She spoke about the #Ode2Joy Challenge – launched by Europa Nostra and its President Maestro Plácido Domingo to celebrate Europe and our shared heritage on the occasion of the European Year – and shared with the audience one of the many inspiring video contributions to the #Ode2Joy Challenge: the #Euphonia project filmed at BASE Milano.

The Creative Session was moderated by Wolter Braamhorst, media executive, cultural historian and founder of TVCulture (The Netherlands).

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