“Cultural Heritage: Worth the Investment?” Best-practices and challenges discussed in Brussels

How to convince policy-makers of the added value of investing in cultural heritage? This was one of the questions that inspired the workshop “Cultural Heritage: Worth the Investment?” that took place in Brussels on 9 October. The panel discussion was organised by the Oslo Region European Office, the Mission of Norway to the European Union and the EEA and Norway Grants as a joint contribution to this year’s programme of the European Week of Regions and Cities. It was moderated by Europa Nostra’s Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović.

Cultural heritage: worth the investment?

The panel discussion brought together expert speakers presenting four different projects that had been funded either by the European Structural and Investment Funds or by the EEA and Norway Grants. Norway’s Ambassador to the EU, Oda Sletnes, opened the event by stressing the capacity of cultural heritage to empower people and providing them with a unique identity. Europa Nostra’s Secretary General, who couldn’t agree more with the positive impact of heritage on community cohesion, presented a copy of the report “Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe” to the Ambassador. This report perfectly illustrates the contribution of cultural heritage to the economy, society, culture and the environment, and hence to sustainable development.

An example of strengthened community cohesion was also the project “Poles of culture – a common heritage at the heart of crossborder cultural cooperation” presented by Corina Raceanu, Director of Programmes at the Intercultural Institute in Timisoara, which had been funded by the EU Interreg programme. She stressed how the collaboration created a mutual understanding and even friendship among the project partners from Romania and Serbia.

Also funded by Interreg, the project “Second chance: from pilot investment to large scale investment” was a prime example of adaptive re-use of industrial sites across Europe. Thomas Müller from the Culture Leisure Office of the City of Nuremberg in Germany stressed that the importance of getting private investors on board.

Supported by the EEA & Norway Grants, the project “Cultural Ambulances on the Move!” focussed on preventive maintenance of cultural monuments in Slovakia, also by issuing technical reports on sites across the country and manuals detailing how to best take care of such monuments, as Barnislav Rezník from the Monuments’ Board of the Slovak Republic outlined.

An inspiring example of how to exchange ideas across borders and built a long-lasting fruitful partnership was the project “A transfer of knowledge – empowering a manor house whilst restoring a lighthouse” presented by Martin Worts, Advisor at the Hå Municipality in Norway. Students from the vocational school in the Estonian manor house eventually carried out parts of the restoration works at the Norwegian lighthouse, while the Norwegian partners provided recommendations on how to use the manor as a cultural attraction.

In the light of such an array of success stories, Europa Nostra’s Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović concluded: “If we only tap into the value and enormous potential of our shared cultural heritage, we will be able to reconnect with local communities and beyond borders.”


The EU Interreg programme is one of the pillars of EU cohesion policy for 30 years. It provides funding opportunities for crossborder, transnational and interregional projects, also related to cultural heritage. A series of successful Interreg projects also received the label of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 – a collection has been published in the e-book “Connecting Cultures, Connected Citizens”. It highlights among others also a project on sustainable tourism actions and one on cultural routes – both in which Europa Nostra’s Member Organisation European Cultural Tourism Network (ECTN) is involved.

The EEA & Norway Grants are supporting projects contributing to a series of priorities, including cultural heritage. Up to now, 11 projects that won an EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/ Europa Nostra Awards have previously benefited from support through the grants, for instance the 2018 rehabilitation project of St. Wenceslas Rotunda in Prague, Czech Republic.

The European Week of Regions and Cities is organised annually by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Commission (Directorate-General for Regional Policy). The 2018 edition with the motto ‘For a strong EU Cohesion Policy beyond 2020’ was held in the context of the 30th anniversary of EU Cohesion Policy and among the key thematic clusters was also education, culture and youth.

Thumbnail photo: © European Union / John Thys

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