PRESS CONFERENCE FOCUSED ON THE AWARDS AND HERITAGE AT RISK
Plácido Domingo, President of Europa Nostra and Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, held a joint press conference on 1 June 2012 in Lisbon just hours before the Ceremony for the 28 winners of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards at Jerónimos monastery in the framework of the European Heritage Congress (30 May - 2 June).
Androulla Vassiliou said that the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards Scheme raises public awareness about the importance of Europe’s cultural heritage. She also praised civil society engagement in this field and paid tribute to the fruitful partnership with Europa Nostra in running and promoting the awards. Commissioner Vassiliou stressed that despite the economic crisis, the European Commission believes that culture needs Europe’s investment and support. That is why the EC proposed a budget increase for the newly launched “Creative Europe programme” and a new financial facility for getting bank loans for small and creative industry businesses.
Domingo spoke with passion about the importance of the European Heritage Awards as ideal tools for promoting best practices and spreading inspiration throughout Europe. He put a special emphasis on two or this year’s winners which are related to Portugal: the marvelous restoration project of the six historic organs of the basilica of Mafra and the conservation project related to the Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam.
“Saving Europe's Endangered Heritage is so important for our future generations” insisted Domingo during the press conference. This was the main topic of the Europa Nostra Forum that was held in the morning of 1 June 2012 at The Gulbenkian Foundation with moderators and speakers who came to Lisbon from all over Europe and also from USA and Australia.The Forum was streamed live and can be viewed again here. “On many places in Europe heritage is much too often neglected and even sacrificed for short-term political or economic gains. And the multiple value and benefits of heritage for our society are not sufficiently recognised and taken into due consideration.” stressed Plácido Domingo during the press conference.
Domingo especially mourned the loss of lives following the earthquakes in Italy and also the substantial damage to cultural heritage caused by these earthquakes. “Europa Nostra appeals to the public authorities to do every effort to restore the historic monuments that are damaged. People do not need only a roof and water and food to live. They also need their historic living environment to be preserved – since this environment form part of their identity and their sense of belonging” said Domingo.
Plácido Domingo also mentioned several campaigns aiming to save Europe’s endangered heritage to which Europa Nostra gladly associated its voice. “So many elements of our heritage – whether they are very well known or less know – are in need of a proper “rescue plan”. Europe – not only its institutions but also its businesses and civil society – need to promote cooperation in this field.” urged Plácido Domingo.
Photo: Pedro Melim / Europa Nostra.