On 4 October, delegates from the Directorate General for Education and Culture – DG EAC presented the new Year of Cultural Heritage at the Committee of the Regions. In his introductory speech, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, president of the Committee of the Regions mentioned culture and cultural heritage as means to bring the EU closer to its citizens. Regions and local authorities will play a crucial role in this process, turning culture into a lever of sustainable local development. An effective development strategy starts from good cooperation among different layers of governance, at the EU, national, and local level. Indeed, culture can play a crucial part in regional development, both at urban and rural level.
2018, European Year of Cultural Heritage
Michel Magnier, director for Culture and Creativity, focused his intervention on the principles which should guide the actions taken in the framework of the European Year. The new European Year is even more relevant, since Juncker’s Commission decided not to invest in European Years, and concentrate on different priorities during its mandate. The decision of devoting one year specifically to Cultural Heritage derives from the Commission’s commitment to reach out to citizens and make a political statement in favour of culture as a sign of our shared identity.
Such an approach is in line with the European Agenda for Culture, and this European Year comes as a turning point in the realisation of those political statements. The Commission is persuaded that cultural heritage must not only be preserved, but developed as a resource for the future. In this respect, special attention is payed by the Commission to young generations; with a view to making culture more accessible and “friendlier” to the younger generations, the Commission plans to make wider use of digital and online channels like YouTube.
The role of Regions and Projects
Michel Magnier stressed the approach taken by the Commission with regard to this European Year, highlighting the importance of governance at the local and regional level. Proposals for concrete actions related to Cultural Heritage should come from the local level, so as to meet local needs and peculiarities. Regions and cities have a role to play to achieve this goal. Indeed, Magnier cited AER plenaries in Nancy as a good example of catalyst for engaging the local level. The AER and other networks can be decisive to push local and regional authorities to cooperate together on shared projects.
With a view to boosting initiatives on Cultural Heritage, the CREATIVE EUROPE Programme recently published two calls for proposals, in order to finance sustainable and innovative projects, engaging citizens on their territory. Particularly relevant for these calls are actions related to
- awareness rising
- protection of cultural heritage
- more effective and participative management of cultural heritage at the local level, boosting citizens’ participation to it
With a view to upholding its commitment to culture, the Commission allocated 5 million EUR to CREATIVE EUROPE, out of a total of 8 millions, and sets to double the budget in the future. Moreover, the Commission is holding the European Culture Forum in Milan, on 7-8 December. Being aware of the importance of communication, the European Commission will also assign to outstanding projects the European Heritage Label. Interested project promoters should contact the National Contact Point for the Year of Cultural Heritage in their own country.