Public forum dedicated to ‘Social Participation in Heritage Protection’

On 25 May 2016 at the Conde Duque Cultural Centre in Madrid, the full-day forum on ‘Social Participation in Heritage Protection’ brought together eminent Spanish, European and South-American heritage experts and 200 heritage professionals, volunteers and officials from all over Europe and Latin-America, who presented innovative cases and shared experiences in an attempt to improve the process of social participation in the heritage field. The event was organised by Hispania Nostra, in cooperation with Europa Nostra, and in the framework of the European Heritage Congress in Madrid. It provided a stimulating environment for fruitful discussions and possible cooperation within and outside Europe. The Forum culminated with the presentation of the Madrid Manifesto, which calls for the reinforcement of civil society organisations as actors of heritage protection, during Europa Nostra’s General Assembly held on the morning of 26 May at Conde Duque with the participation of Manuela Carmena, Mayor of Madrid, Araceli Pereda Alonso, President of Hispania Nostra, and Denis de Kergorlay, Executive President of Europa Nostra.

The Forum opened with the reading of a special message sent by Silvia Costa, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education. “Social participation is particularly important at a time when we need to reach out to local communities and get them as much as possible engaged in the conservation, preservation and enhancement of our heritage”, she stated. Silvia Costa advocated that this topic should be at the heart of the proposed European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018.

Forum on Social Participation in Heritage Protection

Heritage actors at the European level took an active part in the Forum’s panel discussions, such as José María Pérez “Peridis”, President of the Heritage Foundation Santa María La Real (Spain), Lady Diana Eccles, Member of the UK Parliament and Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (UK), José Pascual Marco, General Director for Policies and Cultural Industries and the Book of Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (Spain). Europa Nostra’s network of organisations and individuals dedicated to the protection of heritage was also well-represented with inspiring presentations by Višnja Kisić, Secretary General of Europa Nostra Serbia (Serbia); Karel Loeff, Director of Bond Heemschut (The Netherlands); and Bertrand de Feydeau, Vice-President of La Fondation du Patrimoine (France). A series of eminent speakers from Spain also contributed to this important public Forum.

Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra (Serbia / The Netherlands) participated in the first panel discussion ‘Civil Society in Action for Heritage’. She presented the wide network and range of activities carried out by Europa Nostra, the most representative heritage organisation in Europe. She referred to the winners of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards in the category Dedicated Service as providing successful examples of engaging civil society and citizens. She also highlighted the strong need for enhancing cooperation and best practices among organisations throughout and outside Europe, referring to the involvement of Europa Nostra’s large network of Member and Associate Organisations, as well as the European Heritage Alliance 3.3, a platform coordinated by Europa Nostra since its creation in 2011 which brings together 36 European and international networks.

The main aims of the Forum were to show the importance of individual responsibility and social participation in the conservation, preservation and enhancement of cultural heritage. The Forum’s impressive programme was developed with the goal to allow the speakers and audience to address various national and international issues and necessities and to discuss different ways of both tackling and financing them, while understanding cultural heritage from social, economic and cultural perspectives and how to achieve its sustainable use.

These issues were examined and debated extensively during four thematic panel discussions: ‘Civil Society in Action for Heritage’, moderated by Androulla Vassiliou, new Vice-President of Europa Nostra and former European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth (Cyprus); ‘What is the added value of Social Participation related to Cultural Heritage?’, moderated by Luis Lafuente Batanero, Directorate General for Protection and Conservation, Community of Madrid (Spain); ‘Managing Heritage: How to promote a Participatory Governance of Cultural Heritage?’, moderated by Astrid Weij, Board Member of Europa Nostra (The Netherlands); and ‘Funding Heritage: Innovative ways of encouraging Social Participation,’ moderated by Rafael Carazo, Deputy General Director for Promotion of Cultural Industries and Patronage, Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (Spain).

The participation of heritage representatives from Latin-America gave a special dimension to the Forum, and confirmed the ambition of Europa Nostra and Hispania Nostra to reach out to heritage stakeholders outside of Europe. The addresses by keynote speakers from Latin-America provided rich examples of the involvement of civil society and the management of cultural heritage. Cecilia García-Huidobro, Executive Vice-President of the Association for Cultural Heritage in Chile (Chile), presented ‘Heritage from a private point of view’, illustrated by endangered heritage cases and implemented actions to tackle these issues in a participatory way. Silvia de los Rios, Centre of Research, Documentation and Population Consulting CIDAP (Peru), focused on ‘Citizens participation and conservation of living heritage’ and proved through best practice interventions that planning in the conservations of heritage provides a space for participation. Consuelo Tome Virseda, Head of Heritage and Culture Development Area – AECID (Bolivia), concentrated on ‘Social participation and management of cultural heritage in Latin-America from the Bolivian experience’ and demonstrated that participation in the heritage sector is a human right contributing to better social inclusion. Maria Rosa Alvarez Calderón, Larco Museum (Peru), presented and compared ‘Public, Private and mixed management of cultural heritage in Peru’ using examples of different heritage sites, buildings and museums in the country, and praising that heritage management should equally combine the interests of both the civil society and politics.

The concluding remarks were made by Araceli Pereda Alonso, President of Hispania Nostra. While stressing the importance of sharing experiences and case studies from a variety of regions in Europe and beyond, she emphasised the vital role played by civil society organisations (associations and foundations) to promote and protect cultural heritage in its most varied expressions.

Latest articles about Congress

President of the European Committee of the Regions Markku Markkula addresses Congress’ participants in Turku

Civil society, national coordinators and EU institutions discussed European Year of Cultural Heritage in Turku

Europa Nostra’s governing bodies meet in Turku

More Articles +