Dubrovnik Conference: Heritage is a source of inspiration and a driver of socioeconomic development
From 28-30 September, the UNESCO World Heritage City of Dubrovnik in Croatia was the centre of the world of cultural heritage excellence. During The Best in Heritage Conference, some 140 professionals from 32 countries learned about the world’s most influential museum and heritage projects, took part in intense discussions on various topics and discovered the magic of Dubrovnik. Among the 42 innovative and inspiring projects presented were 7 winners of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards. Europa Nostra was represented by its Executive Vice-President John Sell and Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović. The 16th edition of the conference was organised by the European Heritage Association, based in Zagreb, in partnership with Europa Nostra and with the support of the EU Creative Europe programme and ICOM Endowment Fund.
During the welcome ceremony held in the iconic Marin Držić Theatre on the evening of 28 September, representatives from the main partners and supporters of the conference addressed the audience.
John Sell, who is also the Chairman of Advisory Board of The Best in Heritage, highlighted what makes this event so exceptional: “Every year, the participants say that they gain so much knowledge and inspiration from the conference. I am certain that you will also go home with a renewed sense of excitement about your work”.
Professor Tomislav Šola, Director of the Best in Heritage, explained the conceptual framework of the conference, which focuses on the promotion of excellence, experimental projects and communication. He also spoke about the recently created White Council, comprised of experts from the conference – Advisory Board, moderators, former winners and representatives from partners and supporters – whose main mission is to make a statement on the latest trends and tendencies in the heritage field.
Jelka Tepšić, Deputy Mayor of the City of Dubrovnik, affirmed that “the municipality is proud to support this great event that has always been very inspirational”.
Suay Aksoy, President of ICOM – International Council of Museums, noted that “The Best in Heritage Conference in Dubrovnik is the perfect setting to address present and future challenges related to cultural heritage”.
Sneška Quaedvlieg Mihailović advocated for culture and heritage to become mainstream in EU policies and funding mechanisms. The Secretary General of Europa Nostra referred to the speech recently made by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Pnyx in Athens as “a forceful ode to a Europe of Culture and a Europe of Heritage”. “Perhaps our time has finally come? In spite of the deep crisis which humankind is facing today. Or perhaps because of this deep crisis,” she stated.
Referring to the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018, the Secretary General of Europa Nostra, emphasised: “This Year is a formidable opportunity and a big responsibility. We must use it to demonstrate forcefully that heritage in its widest sense has a huge impact on people’s lives and the quality of their living environment. We must indeed use the creative power of heritage to influence social and economic development for our communities and our citizens”.
The ceremony concluded with the keynote address “Does culture produce bread?” by Dr. Roberto Nardi, Director of the Centre for Archaeological Conservation in Rome. He outlined the outstanding conservation project of the Nuragic Sculptures of Monte Prama in Sardinia in Italy – winner of an EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award 2015 and voted as Project of Influence at The Best in Heritage Conference 2016 – to convincingly demonstrate that that heritage brings not only economic but also social, cultural and environmental benefits. “The Nuragic Sculptures have become Cultural Ambassadors of Sardinia and have been used to promote cultural heritage tourism on the island. Some 69,000 people – a 700% rise in comparison with previous years – visited the Nuragic Sculptures at the town museum of Cabras in 2016. A new, 12-million-euro museum is being built in Cabras to host the entire collection and will open to the public in the coming years,” he emphasised.
On the occasion of the event, Europa Nostra’s Executive Vice-President John Sell and Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović had a meeting with the Mayor of Dubrovnik Mato Franković, who reaffirmed the City’s support for The Best in Heritage Conference and showed keen interest in raising the profile of the event during the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018.