Europa Nostra participates in European Commission’s workshop on complementary funding for cultural heritage

On 25-26 January, the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC) organised a most interesting workshop on complementary funding sources for cultural heritage. Taking place in the frame of the Portuguese Presidency of the EU, the two-day virtual event gathered representatives of the EU Member States, members of the European Commission Expert Group on Cultural Heritage and numerous heritage stakeholders. Two representatives of Europa Nostra, namely our Executive Vice-President Guy Clausse and our Secretary General Sneska Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic participated in the workshop, alongside many of Europa Nostra’s valuable members and partners.

In her welcome address, Catherine Magnant, Deputy Director, Head of Unit on Cultural Policies, DG EAC, highlighted that the COVID-19 crisis, which is taking a considerable toll on the cultural heritage world, revealed the urgent need to find and facilitate access to funding sources that complement the available public support (at EU, national, regional or local levels). Thus, the workshop aimed at identifying these funding sources and transferable best practices in order to promote the economic sustainability of cultural heritage.

As a member of the European Commission Expert Group on Cultural Heritage, Europa Nostra was invited to provide extensive input to the Background Paper on Complementary Funding for Cultural Heritage prepared by DG EAC’s, which served as a basis for the workshop’s programme. Europa Nostra used this opportunity to launch a wide consultation on funding best practices among its members, which represent a large constituency of highly qualified experts from the wider heritage field across Europe and beyond.

Francisco de Paula Coelho, Dean of the European Investment Bank Institute, kicked off the rich programme with an inspiring speech on “How to make cultural heritage interesting for private investors”. He shared insights based on two significant experiences. Firstly, that of the EIB Group as one of the financiers of many important European urban projects involving cultural heritage sites; and, secondly, the experience of the EIB Institute as a partner of Europa Nostra in the 7 Most Endangered Programme which aims to safeguard cultural heritage sites at risk in Europe.

The Dean of the European Investment Bank Institute emphasised the importance of facilitating and improving cooperation and dialogue between the private sector and cultural heritage. He stated: “The solution lies not in choosing private funding over public funding but in mixing both. There is not enough public money available to safeguard, renovate and maintain the infinite variety of cultural heritage sites in Europe. So it is not a question of whether private investors should be involved but how should they get involved?” To illustrate his argument, Francisco de Paula Coelho mentioned public and private mixed funding for successful commercial reuse of cultural heritage sites, which can save them from ruin and give them a second life.

In reaction, Sneska Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, highlighted the last recommendation of the Dean of the EIB Institute to involve private investors in the discussion and the need to find adequate funding for civil society organisations that are raising the profile of heritage projects. She particularly suggested that the European Commission could provide tools to develop a necessary interface between heritage projects and investors.

André Wilkens, Director of the European Cultural Foundation, gave an introductory speech on philanthropy and the role of foundations. He advocated for “Philanthropy with a European purpose” as a response to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. As demonstrated in the study ‘Imagine Philanthropy for Europe’, published by the European Cultural Foundation and the Allianz Kulturstiftung for Europe, philanthropic organisations can foster a sense of European solidarity and belonging, including at the local level. Thus, the pandemic also offers the opportunity to develop much-needed new forms of public-philanthropic partnerships, including a legal framework for European philanthropy.

The presentations were then split according to the following funding instruments:

  1. Innovative public-private partnerships, including the POLIN Museum in Poland (which received a European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award in 2017), Monuments rent in Croatia, and Cultural and Creative Hubs from the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region in Italy;
  2. Crowdfunding and fundraising, including Fund it from Ireland and Diazoma from Greece;
  3. Lotteries, including Lotto Baden-Württemberg in Germany, Loto du Patrimoine in France and Euro Jackpot;
  4. Mixed sources, including Herita in Belgium, Fondation du Patrimoine in France and the subsidy system of The Netherlands.

Célia Vérot, Director of the Fondation du Patrimoine in France, a valuable Member Organisation of Europa Nostra, presented the organisation’s unique model of mixed sources used to finance each project of heritage restoration. Ensuring its economic and political stability, the mixed sources include crowdfunding, subsidies from local governments, escheated inheritance, tax deductions, donations in kind, donations from SMEs, donations from major corporations and the French lottery scheme for cultural heritage Loto du Patrimoine.

Policy Debate 30/10/2019 Collège des Bernardins

The French lottery scheme for cultural heritage, which was inspired by The National Lottery Heritage Fund (UK), is seen as a new source of funding and has accelerated heritage preservation in France. Out of 4,000 sites listed since 2018, 509 endangered sites will benefit from the lottery funds and 230 have already been saved. Among these sites is the iconic Villa Viardot in Bougival in France, which will host the future European Music Centre, an innovative and transdisciplinary project that received the high patronage of Europa Nostra. The restoration works of the Villa Viardot were launched in October 2019 during our European Cultural Heritage Summit. The Loto du Patrimoine is also a participatory initiative that involves citizens in the selection of the sites, who then feel responsible for their preservation. A positive impact was particularly visible in rural areas, with the creation of local jobs and revenues for SMEs, as well as the organisation of training to acquire specialised skills.

Finally, two EU-funded projects working on financing for cultural heritage shared the results of their research and their case studies:

The CLIC project – Circular models Leveraging Investments in Cultural heritage – financed through Horizon 2020;
The FINCH Project – Financing impact on regional development of cultural heritage valorisation – financed through Interreg Europe.

To conclude, Catherine Magnant summarised the main workshop takeaways as follows:

  • The importance for heritage sites and institutions to change their funding strategies and consider long-term investments;
  • The need to re-design business models and incorporate commercial revenue generation opportunities into operational strategies, in order to ensure long-term sustainability;
  • Greening and sustainability, for example through adaptive re-use projects;
    The necessity to empower and involve citizens in supporting heritage through volunteering, crowdfunding or micro-donations;
  • The importance of investing in skills for fundraising;
  • The possibility for heritage stakeholders to develop a European-wide foundation for cultural heritage, potentially linked to a lottery for cultural heritage.


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