The European Year of Cultural Heritage is over, its legacy lives on

After 12 months and over 18,000 events involving 10 million people, the European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH 2018) has been a remarkable year of celebration of cultural heritage under tangible, intangible, natural and digital forms, as well as a reflective year of commemoration of the transformational potential of cultural heritage in various spheres. As one of the stakeholders of the EYCH 2018, UNESCO has also been involved in the implementation of the year.

Objectives of the EYCH

The EYCH 2018 had four objectives:

• To encourage the sharing and appreciation of Europe’s cultural heritage as a shared resource;

• To raise awareness of European common history and values;

• To reinforce a sense of belonging to Europe;

• To better protect, safeguard, reuse, enhance, valorize and promote Europe’s cultural heritage.

The slogan for the year was: Our heritage: where the past meets the future, which stressed the role of young people in keeping heritage, tradition and culture alive.

Spotlights and main initiatives

During the year, events have sprouted up at local, regional, national and international level across more than 35 countries. Several Directorates-General of the European Commission, as well as other EU institutions, collaborated and launched activities jointly focusing on cultural heritage. For example, a dedicated call for heritage projects has been launched under the Creative Europe programme, funding up to 25 transnational heritage projects. Other funding opportunities were made possible through several EU programmes (Erasmus+, Europe for Citizens, Horizon 2020...).

To ensure that the European Year leaves a policy imprint beyond 2018, the European Commission has run long-term projects around 10 European Initiatives.

Several EU-UNESCO partnership projects have also been included in these initiatives, such as:

Engaging youth for an inclusive and sustainable Europe in Initiative 2 and Initiative 3;

World Heritage Journeys of Europe in Initiative 5;

Fighting against illicit trafficking of cultural property in Initiative 7;

the Silk Roads Heritage Corridors in Afghanistan, Central Asia and Iran and Protecting Cultural Heritage and Diversity in Complex Emergencies for Stability and Peace in the International Dimension of the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

Focus on the Engaging youth for an Inclusive and Sustainable Europe project

At the end of EYCH 2018, EU and UNESCO have embarked on a new project to strengthen the connections between youth, heritage and education. The project comprises two components: one proposes an innovative approach to education by inviting teachers and learners to explore their living heritage and learn not only about, but also with and through it; the other one empowers young heritage professionals through the organization of a European Young Heritage Experts Forum. The Forum took place from 20 to 24 May 2019 in Zadar, Croatia, hosted by the Croatian Commission for UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia. It gathered 28 young heritage practitioners between 25 and 32 years from the EU’s Member States to explore potential synergies and challenges of the safeguarding of tangible and intangible cultural heritage in the European context. Participants were enabled to enhance their project management and communication skills through the designing of awareness-raising activities and participation in daily peer-to-peer working sessions. At the end of the Forum, they have conducted two local case studies from Zadar – the Art of Dry Stone Walling and the Venetian Works of Defence, and have created a network of young heritage professionals to act as active ‘Cultural Heritage Messengers’ by spreading the word about the importance of caring for and transmitting our shared heritage. For more information about the Project, please click here.

Legacy: European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage

During the #EuropeForCulture closing conference in Vienna, the European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage was launched with the aim to set a common direction for heritage related activities at European level. Based on 4 principles compromising holistic approach, mainstreaming and integrated approach, evidence-based policy making and multi-stakeholder cooperation, the Framework has set up 5 main thematic areas for 60 actions that will be implemented by the European Commission in 2019 and 2020, including participation and access for all; smart solutions for a cohesive and sustainable future; safeguarding endangered heritage; mobilizing knowledge and research for technical and social innovation; and reinforcing international cooperation on cultural heritage. To maintain the spirit of cooperation and continue the policy dialogue, the Framework has established an informal Commission expert group – the Cultural Heritage Forum, which would serve as a platform to convene institutions, stakeholders and communities worldwide to exchange ideas and best practices for achieving sustainable and participatory cultural heritage in Europe.

In addition, to reinforce and capitalize on EU leadership on innovative aspects of heritage policies, the European Commission will launch three yearly meetings on the future of heritage, meant as global problem solving platforms. The first global platform, the Dublin Platform meeting, was organized on 1 April 2019, centering especially on cultural heritage as a source of innovation in various areas, such as revitalization of rural communities, the crowdsourcing of smart solutions for societal challenges and the promotion of peace around the world. The second global platform, namely the Prague Platform, will take place between 7 and 8 October, in exploring the potential of cultural heritage in the era of digitalization, such as intangible cultural heritage and digitalization, digital heritage, the tech industry and smart and inclusive growth, as well as audience development and digitally enabled cultural heritage participation.

Click here to learn more about the outcomes of the EYCH 2018.

You can also revive the Year on Twitter and Facebook with #EuropeForCulture #EYCH2018

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