European Heritage Policy Agora – Panel “Culture and Heritage as the basis of a New European Renaissance”

The European Heritage Policy Agora “From the New European Bauhaus to the New European Renaissance” was one of the highlights as well as the closing event of the European Cultural Heritage Summit 2021 held from 21-24 September in Venice. The Policy Agora brought together policy-makers at all levels of governance and key heritage stakeholders to reflect on the most topical issues for the cultural heritage ecosystem in Europe, including, among others, the European Green Deal and the New European Bauhaus, the role of cultural heritage in the EU’s external relations and the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The third panel discussion entitled “Culture and Heritage as the basis of a New European Renaissance” opened the perspectives for a broad discussion on the future of the European project altogether, where culture and cultural heritage would be seen as a vector irrigating all future goals and priorities of the EU. It was a direct contribution to the ongoing Conference on the Future of Europe, also coinciding with its Plenaries and European Citizens’ panels. The panel gathered proposals and ideas to craft a new vision for the entire European project.

European Heritage Policy Agora

The panel discussion was moderated by Luca Jahier, Former President of the European Economic and Social Committee (2018-2020). It was introduced with a video message by Roberto Cicutto, President of La Biennale di Venezia, in which he referred to the host city of the European Cultural Heritage Summit 2021: “The choice of Venice, a city that symbolizes the criticalities of the contemporary world, but is also an example of resilience in the face of global events, gives us even more responsibility in the future choices we will make.

European Heritage Policy Agora

Marshall Marcus, Secretary General of the European Union Youth Orchestra, recalled that “the cultural, creative and heritage sectors have the ability, skills and knowledge to help make a New European Renaissance; but to make it work, we have to remember to dare, to be creative and to reach out to people”. To add the much-needed soul to the European project, the New European Renaissance ought to be about aesthetics, ethics and ecology.

European Heritage Policy Agora

Silvia Costa, former MEP and former Chair of the Culture and Education Committee of the European Parliament, explained her ambition as Extraordinary Commissioner for the Italian Government for the restoration of the Santo Stefano prison on the island of Ventotene. This historical building will be revived into a high-level European think-tank, academy and open-air museum fully in line with the principles of sustainability. She also endorsed the Venice Call to Action: “For a New European Renaissance” and applauded Europa Nostra’s ambition to bring culture and heritage at the heart of the debate of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

European Heritage Policy Agora

Basil Kerski, Director of the European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk, Poland, whose permanent exhibition received a European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award 2021 in the category Education, Training and Awareness-Raising, stated: “Culture blossoms when it defends universal ideas. In these challenging times, we must start again from our universal values, including culture and the arts”.

European Heritage Policy Agora

Hana Kohout, Project Assistant at Culture Hub Croatia, member of the European Heritage Youth Ambassadors joint programme of ESACH and Europa Nostra as well as European Commission Bluebook Trainee, highlighted the importance of making culture and heritage more easily accessible, especially to young people. She also called on involving the younger generations more actively in Europe’s digital transformation.

European Heritage Policy Agora

A series of reactions followed the panel discussion. MEP Marcos Ros, Founder of the European Parliament’s New European Bauhaus Friendship Group (S&D, Spain), presented the New European Bauhaus initiative as a unique opportunity to enhance the quality of our built environment, and thus our well-being. “Architecture can change our lives; but only good architecture can improve the quality of life”, he stated.

European Heritage Policy Agora

At last, André Wilkens, Director of the European Cultural Foundation, partner of the “Cultural Deal for Europe” joint initiative of Culture Action Europe, the European Cultural Foundation and Europa Nostra, reacted by advocating for a New European Renaissance with “a culture of solidarity, a culture of climate action, a culture of belonging and a culture of sentiment” at its very heart.

European Heritage Policy Agora

At the end of the European Heritage Policy Agora, the Venice Call to Action: “For a New European Renaissance” was presented. The Venice Call to Action makes a strong plea to European leaders at all levels of governance as well as to all heritage actors to duly integrate the transformative power of culture and cultural heritage among the strategic priorities for the reshaping of our societies. It outlines a series of pressing challenges facing our continent – from the post-pandemic recovery to climate change – and stresses the vital positive contribution of culture and cultural heritage to successfully address them. The Venice Call to Action puts forward 12 concrete and actionable proposals – as a direct contribution by Europa Nostra and its network – that aim at unleashing the potential of cultural heritage for the European Green Deal, the New European Bauhaus and the forthcoming 2022 Year of European Youth, among other key priorities of the European Union, as well as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

More information:
Watch the full videos of the Policy Agora (Part I and Part II).
Read the Policy Agora Programme booklet. The programme booklet only exists in electronic version. Every unprinted booklet helps the environment.

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