Conference ‘Heritage Commons’ hosted in Turin by the Italian Presidency of the EU

The conference ‘Heritage Commons: Towards a participative heritage governance in the third millennium’, organised by the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, took place at the Palace of Venaria Reale in Turin on 23-24 September 2014. Its aim was to consider new governance frameworks which value cultural heritage as a collective resource, focusing on two specific areas: cross-cutting policies enabling heritage to contribute to objectives in different policy areas; and participatory governance for heritage supporting the engagement of civil society in policy development and implementation. Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, also in representation of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3, was the moderator of the first thematic session.

Palace of Venaria Reale in Turin. Photo: Bernard Blanc

Palace of Venaria Reale in Turin. Photo: Bernard Blanc CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Building on the Conclusions adopted by the Council of the European Union in May 2014 – as well as on the outcomes of the two conferences held by the Greek Presidency in March 2014 and the Lithuanian Presidency in November 2013 – the Italian Presidency aims with this initiative to progress towards the practical measures that should now be taken to unleash the potential of cultural heritage for sustainable development. Its main goal was to identify effective approaches to the governance and management of cultural heritage, which respect and enhance its social, cultural, symbolic and economic value.

Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Silvia Costa, Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education of the European Parliament, and Dario Franceschini, Minister for Cultural Heritage, Cultural Activities and Tourism, opened the event. Piero Fassino, Mayor of Turin, gave an inspiring welcome address, in which he highlighted the importance of culture for the successful recovery of the city of Turin and advocated the need for Europe to put culture in a more central place among its policy priorities.

The conference featured five thematic sessions: heritage as a common good (moderated by Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović); community identity as an engine for well-being and prosperity (moderated by Luca Bergamo, Secretary General of Culture Action Europe); advanced models of heritage governance (moderated by Fabio Donato, Board Member of ENCATC); heritage management in cities – taking advantage of civic intelligence and smart tools; and digital technology as an enabler for new ways of supporting heritage as a collective resource and increasing access to heritage (both moderated by Philippe Daverio, cultural journalist and lecturer).

The concluding remarks were made by Dario Franceschini, Minister for Cultural Heritage, Cultural Activities and Tourism.

During this high-profile event, the Secretary General of Europa Nostra took the floor to thank Commissioner Vassiliou for her vital role towards making cultural heritage a real priority for the EU. “From the launching of the European Heritage Label to the adoption of the EC Communication ‘Towards an Integrated Approach to Cultural Heritage’, you have contributed decisively over the past five years to the development of a strategy for cultural heritage at European level. Let us hope that other European leaders will be inspired by the power of your example”, stated Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović.

In parallel with the conference, the 28 EU Culture Ministers had an informal meeting at the Palace of Venaria Reale on 24 September. Among the topics on the agenda were new approaches to the governance of cultural heritage that involve public and private stakeholders as well as the civil society; culture as a supporting tool to fulfill strategic goals and development; the cross-cutting dimension of cultural policies; and the review of the Europe 2020 strategy.

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