European Heritage Youth Ambassadors contribute to 2023 Summit in Venice
Article co-written by Antigoni Michael, Adam Klups, Grace Emely, Sorina Neacsu, Jasna Popovic
Strengthening intergenerational cooperation and knowledge sharing is key for a more resilient future for the cultural heritage ecosystem and Europe as a whole. Upon invitation of Europa Nostra, 10 European Heritage Youth Ambassadors 2023 and 11 young members of both Europa Nostra and the European Students’ Association for Cultural Heritage (ESACH) participated in the European Cultural Heritage Summit 2023 in Venice.
The European Heritage Youth Ambassadors (EHYA) is a joint programme of Europa Nostra, ESACH and the European Heritage Tribune. Since January 2023, the Ambassadors have been meeting online once a month to share updates on their ongoing projects, strategise for collaborative opportunities in the heritage sector and plan campaigns. In April 2023, the EHYA 2023 members had a meaningful gathering in The Hague.
The Summit in Venice, where they were surrounded by key stakeholders in the heritage world, offered the young ambassadors and members a unique opportunity to strengthen connections within the group, expand their professional networks, explore new prospects and exchange ideas. Naturally, such a meeting also provided plenty of opportunities for walks and exploration in the beautiful city of Venice.
Access to all events of the Summit
The EHYA and ESACH members received full waiver to all events of the European Cultural Heritage Summit 2023 in Venice. The Summit focused on ensuring an inclusive and diverse audience, which gave an opportunity to engage in discussions, network with senior participants and contribute fresh perspectives to the discourse on cultural heritage. The EHYA and ESACH’s active presence at the Summit exemplified their commitment to making heritage conversations accessible to all, irrespective of age or background. This stance further underscored the universal essence of heritage, emphasising that it belongs to everyone and should be celebrated as such. Their collective efforts set a precedent for future heritage Summits, reinforcing the importance of an inclusive approach to cultural preservation and appreciation.
Young members actively contributed to various aspects of the events, from ensuring the technical aspects ran smoothly to engaging with panellists and helping with the execution of reports.
European Heritage Hub Forum
One of the highlights of the European Heritage Cultural Summit 2023 was the European Heritage Hub Forum, focused on heritage-based solutions to climate change. The forum outlined how contemporary climate policy is failing and called for better integration of culture and heritage into climate action, on both a European and global scale. Acknowledging the importance of the new generation in this discussion, Grace Emely and Adam Klups – two EHYA with expertise in the field of climate change – participated as panelists.
Focusing on cultural heritage practice and the green, digital and social transformation of our society, the discussion stressed the importance of advocacy, inclusive governance, diverse engagement, and creative approaches in implementing transformative change. The EHYA presented the sector’s role in driving transformative climate action and examples of how the young generation will be well-equipped to be part of the changes, focusing on attitude, priority and skill shifts within the sector.
European Heritage Policy Agora
The European Heritage Policy Agora 2023 took place on the last day of the Summit, bringing together artists, historians, spiritual leaders, policy-makers and civil society organisations to explore the concept of a European Cultural Citizenship.
Sorina Neacsu, Vice-President of ESACH, participated in the second panel, which invited speakers to share their experiences and, more importantly, their perception of the reality of promoting and enhancing culture and heritage across the European continent as a vector of togetherness and resilience for Europe’s society and its citizens. In an engaging intervention, Sorina Neacsu recognised that a cultural citizenship is possible, but must integrate diversity and solidarity at all times.
Europa Nostra 60th Anniversary General Assembly
During the Europa Nostra 60th Anniversary General Assembly, Jasna Popovic, Secretary of ESACH and Coordinator of the Youth Activities within the European Heritage Hub project, and Sorina Neacsu, Vice-President of ESACH, offered a better insight into the newly launched position paper ‘Youth for the Future of Cultural Heritage in Europe’ to all the members of Europa Nostra.
The position paper was developed as a follow up to the 2022 European Year of Youth and is aimed at bringing forward the priorities of youth for cultural heritage. It emphasises the importance of youth in preserving and promoting cultural heritage, especially in the face of climate challenge. The paper highlights the need for inclusion, collaboration, intergenerational exchange, strengthening the sector and embracing new technologies.
This was a truly collaborative youth led work. The entire content was put together by 25 young contributors and 13 reviewers, as well as 2 graphic designers. Jasna Popovic and Sorina Neacsu invited all members present to freely disseminate the position paper and to sign the pledge committing to these principles and working towards a sustainable and inclusive future for cultural heritage in Europe.
Closing Dinner Reception
The European Cultural Heritage Summit in Venice concluded with a dinner at the Palazzo Pisani Moretta. This informal yet impressive gathering provided an ideal setting for the EHYA and young members to engage in conversations and build connections with the staff, members, and Council members of Europa Nostra. It also offered a relaxed environment for them to interact with international experts who had been invited to the Summit. These connections promise to be invaluable not only for the personal development of the EHYA but also for fostering collaborative efforts in the heritage preservation sector and taking meaningful action for the environment.
In recent years, Europa Nostra has been steadily enriching its ranks with young professionals, all with the shared objective of fostering intergenerational equality in matters concerning heritage and climate action. From the Summit in Venice in 2021, which saw the inclusion of the first EHYA cohort, to the Summit in Venice in 2023, it was clear that the voice of youth must be heard to ensure the continuity and vitality of our shared cultural heritage and the preservation of our collective legacy for generations to come.