15 days left to Vote for the Public Choice – European Heritage Awards. Romanian “Ambulance for Monuments” in the competition

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Until 1 September, heritage lovers and supporters from Europe and all around the world can vote online for their favourite award winners and decide which achievement will win this year’s Public Choice Award!

This year’s impressive collection of award winners range from the restoration of Rubens’ garden pavilion in Antwerp (Belgium), to the revival of the renaissance arsenal on the island of Hvar (Croatia); from the trans-European network “Tramontana” dedicated to the research of the tangible and intangible heritage of mountainous regions, to the sensitive preservation of a cultural landscape formed by subterranean caves and wineries in the province of Burgos (Spain); from the rebirth of the impressive Basilica di Santa Maria di Collemaggio in l’Aquila (Italy), heavily damaged by the devastating earthquake of 2009, to the “Ambulance for Monuments” with an emergency team of craftspeople ready to save endangered heritage in Romania; and from “Scanning for Syria”, a research project carried out by a research centre in The Netherlands, to a major exhibition marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, organised in co-production between Poland and Spain.

The Public Choice Award will be announced in the autumn of 2020. The winners of the Grand Prix, entitled to receive a monetary award of €10,000 each, will also be made public on this occasion.

The European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards were launched by the European Commission in 2002 and have been run by Europa Nostra – the European Voice of Civil Society Committed to Cultural Heritage – ever since. The Awards have the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

The Ambulance for Monuments project was launched in 2016 to rescue hundreds of heritage-listed buildings in Romania through a large network of active heritage organisations. These emergency interventions are carried out by experts, students and trained craftsmen on a voluntary basis with the support of local communities and authorities. At the heart of the project in each region is an intervention kit and a lorry equipped with tools, construction equipment and materials.

Most of the project’s activities are related to the replacement of damaged roofs, securing walls from collapse, implementing proper water drainage and stabilising wall paintings. Since 2016, many interventions on local, national and World Heritage sites – such as churches, mills, manor houses, train stations and ruins of historic fortifications – have been carried out.

An important element of the project is its focus on local decision-making and ownership of the heritage. Ambulance for Monuments operates as an umbrella initiative, with each organisation working as a franchise and therefore maintaining the independence of each organisation to make decisions. Communities work together with the volunteers, hosting them in their homes and providing meals.

The initiative also trains young experts and craftspeople at a local level, ensuring the sustainable and future maintenance of the buildings, addressing a problem that is present not just in Romania but in many other countries throughout Europe.

The Ambulance for Monuments project acts with great sensitivity to emergency interventions and the maintenance and the restoration of heritage buildings. The initiative is active in many regions throughout Romania and especially focuses on neglected rural areas which are facing population decline. It trains volunteers to work in the field of restoration under the guidance of conservation experts, which is a good way of reviving forgotten techniques and skills. Also notable is the successful cooperation between organisations, authorities and other stakeholders at local, regional and national levels. This strong initiative could be adapted to a number of countries in Europe”, the Jury said.

The project has enjoyed the support of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and The Anglo-Romanian Trust for Traditional Architecture. HRH The Prince of Wales congratulated the volunteers of The Ambulance for Monuments on their remarkable heritage achievement.

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