Cultural heritage has the power to connect and shape a common European identity. Its strength was demonstrated throughout the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 which had amazing success among citizens of all 28 EU-member states and, as a new report highlights, delivered a range of innovative and valuable outcomes.
The European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH), promoted by the European Commission, was celebrated in all EU member states and many more countries in Europe under the motto ‘Our heritage: where the past meets the future’. A recently published European Commission report presents the main results of the year.
Europe’s cultural heritage… in numbers
– Over 300,000 people are employed in the EU cultural heritage sector
– 7.8 million EU jobs are indirectly linked to heritage (e.g. interpretation and security)
– 38 sites hold the European Heritage Label for the role they have played in European history
– 33 Cultural Routes have been certified by the Council of Europe
– 54 million items from 3,700 European cultural institutions are accessible online through Europeana.
In preparation for the EYCH, a special edition of the Eurobarometer survey was carried out in late 2017. This demonstrated that Europeans consider:
– cultural heritage important to them personally (84%), to their community (84%), region (87%), country (91%) and the EU as a whole (80%)
– public authorities should allocate more resources to cultural heritage (74%)
– cultural heritage can improve quality of life (71%) and a sense of belonging to Europe (70%).
The success of the EYCH is shown by the strong participation and engagement of citizens:
– 30 million people took part in the 60,000 events of the special edition European Heritage Days.
The European Year’s primary objectives
The EYCH aimed at reinforcing a sense of belonging, by promoting the sharing and appreciation of the rich heritage that makes Europe unique through:
• promoting the role of Europe’s cultural heritage as a pivotal component of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue
• enhancing the contribution of Europe’s cultural heritage to society and the economy through its direct and indirect economic potential
• promoting cultural heritage as an important element of the relations between the Union and third countries.
Synergies and a cross sectoral approach were key
A decentralised approach was adopted to implement the EYCH. At national level, it was coordinated by national coordinators representing participating countries. At European level, different bodies worked jointly – up to 15 Directorate-Generals of the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the EU, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee. The European Commission was assisted by a group of 38 civil society organisations (stakeholders’ committee), which included EUROCITIES.
Policy outcomes and innovative solutions
This cross-sectoral approach enabled different and broader policy areas, such as environment and planning, to be covered, leading to the development of cutting-edge solutions to the challenges of the cultural heritage sector.
The deliverables resulting from this approach include:
– Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor, a benchmarking tool to monitor the performance of cultural and creative cities in Europe
– Cultural Gems, a web app, whose goal is to share and expand knowledge on cultural venues in European cities
– a special prize as part of the European Commission’s Access City Awards 2019, awarded to the cities of Vilborg (Denmark) and Monteverde (Italy) for making cultural heritage accessible to all
– a Community of Innovators in Cultural Heritage, an open exchange platform which gathers innovators, key stakeholders, practitioners, pioneers and social change-makers in the field of cultural heritage and is empowered by the Horizon 2020 ROCK project, of which we are a partner.
The year was but a taste: what else is boiling in the pot?
A specific expert group (30 selected representatives, including EUROCITIES, providing the Commission with advice and expertise on the topic) follows the implementation of the European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage adopted in 2018, which sets out a common direction for heritage-related activities at European level, primarily in EU policies and programmes. A peer-learning programme on cultural heritage for cities and regions will start early 2020 and will include thematic visits for local representatives. More information to come soon!