European Heritage Hub inaugurated in Brussels to support Europe’s green, social and digital transformation through cultural heritage

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The European Heritage Hub was inaugurated last week in Brussels. The partners of the hub gathered in the heart of EU policy and decision-making on 10-11 May for an eventful two-day programme marking the start of one of the largest cultural heritage-driven projects across Europe to support the green, social and digital transformation of our society. The project is funded by the European Union and will run for an initial two-year period, from May 2023 to April 2025.

The official kick-off meeting took place at the Press Club in Brussels on 10 May. The co-beneficiaries and affiliated partners of the Hub, listed below, met for a fruitful and invigorating first gathering, building synergies, outlining main priorities and agreeing on first actions for the Hub. The consortium was also joined by representatives of the European Commission, Walter Zampieri, Head of Unit of the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), Alejandro Ramillo, Project Adviser and Coordinator of EACEA, as well as by Pia Sopta, Policy Officer for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC).

Day one concluded with a vibrant inaugural reception at the emblematic Art and History Museum in the Jubelpark Cinquantenaire, a rising cultural and historical landmark located in the very heart of Brussels. Some 100 people attended the reception, during which the contract of the European Heritage Hub was officially co-signed by Walter Zampieri, Head of Unit of EACEA, and Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Project Leader of the European Heritage Hub and Secretary General of Europa Nostra.

The contract of the European Heritage Hub was officially co-signed by Walter Zampieri and Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović. © Raquel Echevarria

Georg Haeusler, Director for Culture, Creativity and Sport in the European Commission (DG EAC), applauded the launch of the European Heritage Hub which shall help the EU Institutions by establishing as many synergies as possible between various stakeholders and European projects. “The European Heritage Hub is an ambitious initiative that will put forward a holistic and integrated approach to cultural heritage, based on principles of participatory governance and democracy. The new hub will provide a platform for exchange of expertise and awareness-raising. It will contribute to the reflection collectively started during the European Year of Cultural Heritage – the wish to streamline cultural heritage across policies and to promote its management and preservation,” he stated.

Paul Dujardin, Chief Project Director of Horizon 50/200, and Bruno Verbergt, Director General at Royal Museums of Art and History, also gave some opening remarks to welcome the launch of the European Heritage Hub.

The project responds to the need to set up a more permanent heritage Hub in Europe which seeks to bring together various stakeholders with the view of ensuring a more structured cooperation and coordination of action at all levels of governance, from local to European and international.

Walter Zampieri welcomed the newly launched European Heritage Hub: “This very ambitious project will be implemented by an impressive team – that’s what is just needed to take forward the success of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage“.

Building on the extensive expertise and experience of the consortium, the Hub sets out to tackle the many priority goals of the European Union and its key partners in Europe and beyond. Special emphasis will be given to climate action and the green transition; inclusion, cohesion and accessibility; as well as innovation and digital transition. These three cross-cutting issues will be at the heart of the entire project and be embedded horizontally in all its activities.

This is a turning point for the European cultural heritage field. A distinct added value of the European Heritage Hub is its strong focus on the mobilisation of regional and local authorities and communities as well as of civil society across Europe. The Hub will seek to advance a decentralised approach to heritage, stressing the central role of regions and cities, and, ultimately, reaching out to citizens at large“, stated Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović.

The European Heritage Hub has a total budget of €3,2 million euros, of which 90% is funded by the EU. During the kick-off meeting the European Commission confirmed they will contribute an additional sum of cc. €1 million euro to ensure that the Hub’s activities are duly involving partners from Ukraine, the Western Balkans and from the three countries of the Caucasus.

From museums, cities and civil society organisations active in the field of cultural heritage to sustainability, digitalisation or music, the 20 partners of the newly launched European Heritage Hub gather a wide array of expertise and experience, covering all aspects of heritage in the whole of Europe.

Europa Nostra will take the role of the project leader, working closely with the European partners (co-beneficiaries) of the project, Europeana Foundation, Eurocities, KU Leuven (via HERKUL) and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability; as well as the affiliated partners of the project of the project, the Society of Friends of Kraków History and Heritage, ELLINIKI ETAIRIA – Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage, Cinquantenaire 2030, Centro Nacional de Cultura, Hispania Nostra and the European Music Centre.

Several associated partners will support the European Heritage Hub pilot project, namely the Organisation of World Heritage Cities, the City of Kraków, the City of Athens, the Municipality of Lisbon, the Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and SUMUS.

Other partners supporting the project are the European Students’ Association for Cultural Heritage and the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO).

The first steering committee meeting will take place at the beginning of June. The next series of public activities of the European Heritage Hub will take place in Venice on 27-30 September 2023, as part of European Cultural Heritage Summit 2023, which will mark Europa Nostra’s 60th Anniversary Summit.

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