CLOSER TOGETHER WHILE STAYING PHYSICALLY APART

Personal Message by the Europa Nostra Executive President and Secretary General on the occasion of the the COVID-19 Crisis

(As an introduction to the the Europa Nostra Newsletter, dispatched on 3 April 2020)

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

In these trying times, we wish to convey a strong message of compassion, solidarity and hope to everybody in Europe and around the Globe whose lives and livelihoods have been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We mourn the loss of so many people while praising the heroic performance of medical and other vital workers who are saving so many lives in such difficult conditions. We are grateful that our President, Maestro Plácido Domingo, is among those many people who have managed to start recovering from the coronavirus infection. He is also grateful for the messages of support which he has received from our Europa Nostra family while combating the illness and, together with us, keeps the hope that he shall soon fully recover.

In the face of such huge challenges, we today feel the need to be closer together while staying physically apart. This is the time to cherish and embrace the values of togetherness and connectedness which are at the core of Europa Nostra’s mission. This is also the time for all of us to join our forces and unite our voices to make sure that the care for our shared cultural heritage is duly included within the recovery plans for Europe’s society and economy which have been so heavily hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

We are pleased to inform you that our Staff in The Hague and Brussels, as well as our Board members, are all safe, healthy and working remotely as a team (as demonstrated in the photo below taken on 2 April during our virtual Board meeting). While having been obliged to postpone the holding of our European Cultural Heritage Summit in Brussels (most probably for June 2021), our work continues – through digital means – on so many fronts.

Meeting of the Board of Europa Nostra, 2 Abril 2020

We have launched a new digital initiative – the Europa Nostra Agora; we have published the new List of 7 Most Endangered heritage sites in Europe; we have launched a wide consultation about the impact of COVID-19 on the world of heritage; we stand in solidarity with many European partners in the wider fields of culture, tourism and philanthropy; we are preparing for the announcement of the winners of our 2020 Awards and we are contributing to a series of ongoing EU-funded projects. You can read more about all these activities in this new edition of our Europa Nostra Newsletter.

As mentioned above, it has, alas, become impossible to organise the European Cultural Heritage Summit in Brussels as originally planned on 20-23 June 2020. Therefore, we have taken the decision to cancel our Brussels Summit and we plan to hold our large annual European heritage rendez-vous at a later date, most probably in Spring 2021, depending on further developments.

We also want to share with you some breaking news by introducing the selected sites for our 7 Most Endangered programme 2020. In these trying times, we wish to send a strong message of solidarity to the local communities and activists that are fighting on the ground to preserve their most cherished heritage gems! We are also pleased to update you on the preparation of the announcement of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2020 – Europe’s highest honour in the heritage field – and the first-ever ILUCIDARE Special Prizes for heritage-led innovation and international cultural relations. Do you have some extra time on your hands during the quarantine? The deadline to submit your innovative heritage practices in cities and regions within the EU-funded Cultural Heritage in Action project has been extended until 27 April. We look forward to receiving your input!

Like all of you, Europa Nostra is seriously worried about the harmful impact of this unprecedented crisis on Europe’s heritage world. During the last two weeks, we have been working continuously to reach out to various heritage stakeholders in order to learn about their concerns. Among our initial actions, we have launched a consultation among our wide-ranging network of members and partners on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the heritage world. We have also co-signed three important European statements on this matter which were initiated by our colleagues from the wider fields of culture, philanthropy and tourism. In hard times like the ones we are living, we will always be stronger when working in partnership.

Last but not least, we are proud to present to you a brand new initiative, called the Europa Nostra Agora, born as a creative response to the ongoing confinement and physical distancing to combat the pandemic. This initiative aims to provide a virtual platform to share and promote digital best practices related to culture and cultural heritage from across Europe and the world. By joining forces through creative and innovative solutions, we shall give more visibility and understanding of Europe’s “Unity in Diversity” while advancing the digital shift and optimising people’s confinement time. By sharing and promoting news and content, we wish to make a modest but meaningful contribution to enhancing the mental health of citizens during the trying times of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Stay safe and healthy! We look forward to hearing from you!

With all our solidarity and friendship,
Hermann Parzinger, Executive President
Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General

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