Throughout 2018, people across Europe will gather to celebrate Europe’s unique cultural heritage as part of the European Year of Cultural Heritage. For thousands of years, culture has remained a fixture in people’s lives, shaping people’s identities and world views. Culture is reflected in the art and literature people create, the food people eat, and stories passed down through generations. It is visible daily through natural and archeological wonders.
With the emergence of new technologies and the mixing of different societies, culture slowly changes with each generation but still retains its identifiable characteristics. This evolution of culture has given rise to the slogan for the year: where the past meets the future. As part of the celebrations numerous events organised by governments and institutions will be available for people to enjoy throughout the year.
AER and European Cultural Heritage
AER is playing a leading role in the European Year of Cultural Heritage with our 2018 Summer Academy in Maramures, where the topic will be cultural heritage for regional attractiveness, designed to celebrate the cultural diversity of European regions. This year’s Summer Academy will promote inter-cultural understanding by educating youth on the cultures of other regions, while getting youth to take an active role in their region’s culture, safeguarding its future.
At the AER 2017 Spring Plenaries delegates interested in cultural heritage had the opportunity to participate in a workshop on cultural heritage. Delegates debated inventive ideas such as using the latest technology to bring traditional cultural practices into the digital era and cultural heritage as a mechanism for social inclusion. Cultural heritage was also in the spotlight during the debate “Is there a future for culture in the digital age?” at the Autumn 2017 plenaries in Nancy. Since the plenary AER has become a partner in the project, “Documenting Cultural Heritage Landscapes in Europe”, which aims to safeguard cultural landscapes around Europe by documenting and advertising them through various channels.
Year of Cultural Heritage in Gävleborg
For some AER member regions, the cultural celebrations have already begun. On January 13th, two events were held in Gävleborg, Sweden, the first one in the city of Gävle at the County Castle. Occurring outside in the blistering cold, the event featured lively music, local food, people in costume as vikings and speeches from the governor Per Bill and the president of the Cultural Affairs and Competence Development Committee at the regional council of Gävleborg Alf Norberg, as well as many others. To the south, a special event commemorating culture in Järvsö (located in the County of Hälsingland) took place where one hundred people in national garb went downhill skiing, bearing torches.
Today, the Gävleborg region accommodates cultural heritages from various parts of the world, connecting people and livening Gävleborg’s culture. For Gävleborg, the European Year of Cultural Heritage in Gävleborg is about raising awareness about what is happening in the County in the context of cultural heritage. The European Year of Cultural Heritage in Gävleborg is divided into three different periods:
The first period, the Discovery of Cultural Heritage, focuses on the discovery and acquisition of cultural knowledge. The second, centres around experiencing cultural heritage through the senses since cultural heritage becomes accessible and enticing through sensory experiences. The third involves the appreciation of cultural heritage with the goal of helping people see the benefits of cultural heritage.
Preserving a culture’s vitality is hard work which requires citizens’ engagement and participation. The European Year of Cultural Heritage promises to accomplish this by encouraging people to discover their culture while promoting important inter-cultural conversations between citizens about what they have in common.