Europa Nostra
#15 - 17 July 2020
Dear Colleagues & Friends,
Exactly one week ago, a shock wave spread across the world, and especially among the large circle of cultural heritage scholars, professionals and supporters: the President of the Republic of Turkey issued a decree changing the museum status and related jurisdiction of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, one of the greatest and most iconic monuments in Europe and the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We invite you to read the Europa Nostra statement issued today, in which we deplore this decision taken without the required prior consultation with UNESCO, that raises fundamental concerns about the future of this exceptional World Heritage Site. In this document, we also refer to the important statement made on this matter by UNESCO, the joint statement made by ICOMOS & ICOM and the forceful statement made by our colleagues from ICOMOS Turkey. At a time when humanity as a whole is facing such huge challenges, our shared cultural heritage must bring us closer together and serve as a source of inspiration and solidarity through intercultural and interfaith dialogue. Hagia Sophia ought to continue to serve this vital cause, as a museum, for the benefit of all citizens in Turkey, in Europe and in the rest of the world.
© Stevan Kordic
Therefore, Europa Nostra is urging the authorities of Turkey, a Member State of the Council of Europe, and a State Party to the World Heritage Convention, to uphold the principle of cultural integrity of Hagia Sophia as an essential expression both of due respect for universal human rights and of the need for promoting harmonious and peaceful cohabitation and dialogue between different religious and cultural traditions.
Our statement on Hagia Sophia coincides with a historic meeting of the European Council, when EU Leaders are meeting for the first time after the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic to decide on the urgently needed recovery instruments for our society and economy and prepare a better future for Europe and its citizens. Let us recall that our shared cultural heritage and values provide meaning to the entire European project. We therefore remain confident that European leaders will place culture and heritage where they belong: at the very heart of Europe’s recovery and revival.
When presenting the ambitious “Next Generation EU” Recovery Plan, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said: “This is Europe’s moment”. Up to us to mobilise to make it also “Our shared Cultural Heritage’s moment”. This is precisely the message of the European Heritage Alliance Manifesto “Cultural Heritage: a powerful catalyst for the future of Europe”, which 49 members of the European Heritage Alliance launched on 9 May, the Europe Day 2020.
Ahead of today’s European Council meeting, Europa Nostra deployed an intense advocacy campaign towards EU leaders. Our Manifesto was conveyed individually to all EU Heads of State or Government encouraging them to seize this unique opportunity in the history of European integration to unleash the transformative power of cultural heritage for the future of Europe. More precisely, we urge them to deploy adequate resources and support measures for culture and cultural heritage in the Next Generation EU Recovery Plan (with a special emphasis on the ReactEU programme), as well as to double the budget of the Creative Europe programme. By doing so, we have joined an ever growing European mobilisation of the wider world of culture and creative sectors/industries for achieving stronger recognition and support by European Union and its Member States. Among others, 45 leading European artists and cultural personalities issued a call for EU leaders to “be bold and to invest in culture and the arts, to invest in all our creative futures.

To end, I invite you to read a recent article, published on the New Europe online media platform, together with Jimmy Jamar, former Head of the European Commission Representation in Belgium and now Head of Europa Nostra Brussels Office. Under the title “The soothing virtues of cultural heritage”, this article highlights the multiple benefits which cultural heritage provides for the transformation of our societies, and especially for our resilience and well-being.
We wish you an inspiring and enriching journey through our Digital Agora and related online platform! Please, share your contributions for inclusion in our next editions with Manon Richard (
On behalf of the Europa Nostra Agora Team,
Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović
Secretary General
European Capital of Culture 2026 - Oulu, Savonlinna and Tampere have been shortlisted in the competition for the title of European Capital of Culture 2026 in Finland. A panel of twelve independent experts recommended the shortlist from competing Finnish cities at the outcome of a 2-day (partially digital) meeting in Helsinki. In 2026, Finland will host the European Capital of Culture for the third time, after Helsinki in 2000 and Turku in 2011. The panel will meet again in Helsinki in spring 2021 to recommend the Finnish city to become the European Capital of Culture 2026. In the same year, there will also be another European Capital of Culture in Slovakia. The pre-selection round in Slovakia will take place in early 2021 and the final selection in the end of 2021.
Reopening Europe - The Covid-19 pandemic reversed the decades-long project of open European borders. But at the same time it has provided a moment for reflection about our lifestyle: How has Covid-19 affected people’s situations? What are their hopes and fears for Europe going forward? And what are their perceptions of borders, both internal and external? Reopening Europe is an activist, research, and storytelling project exploring these questions through a July 2020 road trip and a programme of following activities, supported by Brussels-based think tank Bruegel. Over an intense two-week initiation period Guiseppe, David and Andri travelled through 10 countries of Europe and met diverse players from politicians and business leaders, to artists and youth leaders. You can read and watch their fascinating stories online on the project website and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
Malta: Underwater Museum - This Virtual Museum is an online platform that brings Malta’s unique underwater cultural heritage to the surface and into the homes of the general public. The use of powerful cameras and special underwater lights made it possible to capture Malta’s underwater cultural heritage in such a way as to make it accessible to everyone, whilst also allowing the public to dive into history. The creation of this digital record contributes to the continued effort for the preservation and protection of Malta’s submerged cultural heritage for future generations.
UK: National Commission for UNESCO - A new research shows that UNESCO projects can help build a greener, more equal and more peaceful world, while also creating financial value. The research analysed case studies from expansive mountain ranges to densely populated areas such as The Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site, the UNESCO Isle of Man Biosphere: Beach Buddies, the Antonine Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site, or the UNESCO National Trail in Scotland. Along with preserving precious landscapes, buildings and archives, UNESCO projects are also leading research on vital issues such as water scarcity, refugee integration, climate change and child literacy.
Germany: Next Museum - NRWForum is an international exhibition centre that has just launched - a platform for a more inclusive, democratic co-curation and co-creation. In the aftermath of quarantine, when museums were forced to move online, NextMuseum asks important questions about the role of technology in the art space and experimenting with digital formats. They have opportunities for online exhibition curation or ‘live curating’ - either as a professional curator or as a visitor by using the ‘Virtual Exhibitions’ platform where visitors can drag and drop images into a common online space. This is part of the German Federal Cultural Foundation’s Digital Culture Programme. Check out if you would like to try a hand at digital curation, submit some of your own artwork, become part of a discussion network on the theme of digital curation, or simply enjoy their online exhibitions!
Europa Nostra #TakeoverTuesdays - Europa Nostra has launched a new social media campaign to bring you closer to the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards laureates in 2020! Every Tuesday, a winner of the “Oscars” of the heritage world is taking over our instagram account for a #BehindTheScenes tour revealing the story behind each winning project. Explore these exceptional heritage initiatives from a different angle, meet the key heritage experts orchestrating each project and enjoy a VIP tour through their lenses. So far, the SARAT (7 June) and Iron Bridge (14 June) project teams have taken over our account posting enriching and moving content. You can still watch their contributions here. On 21 June do not miss the take over by Auschwitz Exhibition! Stay tuned for more takeovers the coming Tuesdays for some summer inspiration! Do not forget that you can still vote for the Public Choice Award to determine this year’s winner!
#HeritageIsOpen - Post lockdown, this hashtag intends to spread the word about heritage sites and historic places openings. While this hashtag is being primarily used in the UK, it allows you to find new places to visit either in person or virtually from your twitter feed. Find the twitter hashtag here and use it to make a post of your next museum or heritage site visit to encourage more visitors.
#ArtifactoftheMonth - This hashtag is used by many museums and societies to highlight a certain historical artifact in their collections. Museums such as WFU MOA, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum and more have published items using this hashtag. The most popular thread on this hashtag however, is the FBI’s posts on their archived artifacts from various missions such as most recently the laptop used by Russian Spy, Anna Chapman. Find their full collection here; and the twitter hashtag here.
#OperaTellers - This Instagram storytelling video series features contributions and reflections on opera pieces, with the aim to promote dialogue among cultures, though music. Watch the new episodes dedicated to:
  • Don Giovanni (3rd episode): An opera piece with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte.
  • Nabucco (4th episode): An Italian-language opera composed by Verdi, marking his rebirth after a very dark period.
  • Fidelio (5th episode): Beethoven's first and only opera, an episode to celebrate the 250th anniversary from his birth
Check and follow @music4diplomacy on instagram to get directly informed for new episodes! 
#TikTok - Already 11 museums have joined the community of this new and promising social media platform! Among them the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Rijksmuseum Museum in Amsterdam and the Prado Museum in Madrid. Check their #TikTok accounts for funny, surreal and at the same time educational content, as world’s leading museums are giving lessons on digital community engagement during the pandemic for cultural and creative sectors.
IMPORTANT: Do not forget to join & contribute to our conversation on social media with the hashtag #EuropaNostraAgora on Twitter, Instagram and FacebookWe also invite you to watch our #TakeoverTuesdays Instagram stories with laureates of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2020.
Project Iron Bridge - Saving an Industrial Icon: Online Lecture - The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), Europa Nostra UK and English Heritage are hosting a free online webinar on 22 July (16:00 - 17:00 BST) to hear about the recent European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award 2020 winning conservation project led by English Heritage. The Iron Bridge is the world's first bridge constructed of iron, and a symbol of the Industrial Revolution. After surveys discovered dangerous structural cracks, English Heritage embarked on the largest conservation project in its history, preserving the Iron Bridge for the future. Following introductory remarks by Sneska Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, Sara Crofts, Chair of Europa Nostra UK, will introduce the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards scheme. The Head Collections Curator at English Heritage, Matt Thompson, will then speak about the history of the structure, the conservation work undertaken and the future of the industrial icon, finishing the lecture with a Q&A session. More information and registration here.
Hack4Cult - Italy calls Europe, the first cultural Hackathon launched by Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation together with the European Cultural Foundation and Itinerari Paralleli Social Enterprise will take place on 24-26 July. The aim is to brainstorm new ideas and projects around 4 challenges faced by the cultural & creative sector in Covid time. As a participant, you will join a working table and co-design with Italian peers possible solutions for audience and participation, digital solutions, resilient models for sustainability and the reshape of cultural spaces. The ideas and outputs will be uploaded on the event website and could be selected for further support by the institutional partners of the event! Deadline for application: 22 July. More information here.
Webinar: Global Challenges, Sustainability and the Politics of Heritage - The AHRC Heritage Priority Area is organising a half day online event on 22 July (11:00 - 14:30 CET) in the frame of its Follow-on-Funding dedicated to Opening New Pathways to Impact across Heritage Research, Policy and Practice. This webinar aims to foster dialogues between policy makers, heritage professionals and heritage research communities to increase awareness of the role the Arts and Humanities can play in policy and decision-making. It shall explore the relationships between global challenges, specific and far-reaching understandings of sustainability, and their relationships with heritage. More information on the programme and registration here.
Online Lecture: Thebes: the (nearly) lost city of Ancient Greece - As part of its Summer lectures programme, the British School at Athens is organising an online lecture led by Professor Paul Cartledge (University of Cambridge) on 22 July (19:00 CEST). The city of Thebes in ancient Greece has too often been 'forgotten' - for various reasons. But actually there were two ancient cities of Thebes, not just one: the City of Myth (Kadmos, Oedipus and co) and the City of History (e.g. Epameinondas). The latter has been more often forgotten than the former! This short talk, based on a recent book, will seek to introduce both Cities - memorably. Registration here.
Map Your Heritage: the PERICLES online mapping platform for coastal and maritime cultural heritage - The 3rd PERICLES Webinar will take place online on 23 July (13:00 - 14:00 CET). PERICLES is an EU-funded research and innovation project promoting sustainable, participatory governance of cultural heritage in European coastal and maritime regions through a unique interdisciplinary and geographically wide-ranging approach.This webinar will feature Sarah Knight, who will present the PERICLES portal, an interactive, multimedia online mapping platform designed to enable the collection of data and analysis of the distribution of tangible and intangible cultural heritage. More information here.
Europa Nostra calls for the preservation of the cultural integrity of Hagia Sophia - In a statement issued today, Europa Nostra deplores the unilateral decision to change the museum status and related jurisdiction of one of the greatest and iconic monuments in Europe and the World, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. This has raised fundamental concerns about the future of this exceptional World Heritage Site. Today, at a time when humanity as a whole is facing such huge challenges, our shared cultural heritage must serve as a source of inspiration and solidarity through intercultural and interfaith dialogue. Hagia Sophia ought to continue to serve this vital cause, as a museum, for the benefit of all citizens in Turkey, in Europe and in the rest of the world. Therefore, Europa Nostra calls on the Turkish authorities to ensure that the cultural integrity and universal values of Hagia Sophia are recognised, respected and made accessible. Read the full statement here.
The soothing virtues of cultural heritage - In an article written for New Europe, Jimmy Jamar, former Head of the European Commission Representation in Belgium and Head of Europa Nostra Brussels Office, together with Sneska Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, advocate that cultural heritage can offer untapped potential not only to the transformation of our societies, a request which was often put forward during the confinement weeks, but also to our societies’ resilience and well-being. They also recall that the voice of Europe’s civil society ought to be duly incorporated in the forthcoming Conference on the Future of Europe: “No serious discussion on the future of the European continent and its role in the world could be conducted without addressing the issues of Europe’s shared memory and culture which form an asset both for the quality of life of its citizens and for its touristic attractiveness.
Prominent European cultural figures launch a call to invest in all our creative futures - Ahead of the European Council meeting on 17-18 July, 45 leading European cultural figures issued a call for EU leaders to “be bold and to invest in culture and the arts, to invest in all our creative futures.” This is a direct response to the European Commission’s latest proposal to reduce the Creative Europe programme’s budget to €1,52 billion, in comparison to the €1,64 billion they had initially proposed in May 2018. Performance artist Marina Abramović, singer-songwriters Björk and MØ, dance choreographer Anne-Teresa De Keersmaeker, film directors Agnieszka Holland, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre, theatre director Ivo Van Hove, conceptual visual artist Daniel Buren, film music composer Alberto Iglesias and writer Nina George are among the many acclaimed names behind the call. Paul Dujardin, CEO & artistic director of BOZAR as well as chairman of Europa Nostra Belgium has also signed this call. Europa Nostra and several members of the European Heritage Alliance have promoted this initiative.
NEMO report on digitalisation and copyright: challenges of making museum collections accessible online - In order to identify challenges that museums in Europe encounter when digitising their collections and establishing online access to them, NEMO conducted a survey on digitisation and copyright. The findings and recommendations have been gathered in a report, which was published on 15 July 2020. Based on its survey findings, NEMO and its Working Group Digitalisation and IPR offer recommendations to EU policy makers on the one hand, and to national museum organisations and museums on the other hand, to help museums on their way to digitalise collections. The report also addresses the national implementation processes of the EU Digital Single Market Directive (DSM directive) and arising questions about Intellectual Property Right (IPR).
SoPHIA: Social Platform for Holistic Heritage Impact Assessment – This Horizon2020 funded project aims to promote collective reflection within the cultural and political sector in Europe on the impact assessment and quality of interventions in European historical environment and cultural heritage sites at urban level. This vast and diverse community of stakeholders from different fields and disciplines will work together towards the definition of an effective impact assessment model, quality standards and guidelines for future policies and programmes. SoPHIA´s work is organised around four main analytical dimensions – social, cultural, economic and environmental impact – which constitute perspectives to identify the most important challenges and opportunities linked to cultural heritage interventions in Europe. The project is coordinated by Roma Tre University with a Consortium of 7 partners. You can find more information on the project’s website.
Piran European Capital of Culture 2025: The Big Picture Artistic Perspectives on Our Climate - The PI2025 bid to become Slovenia’s European Capital of Culture aims to play a pivotal role in these crucial times. The city aims to bring the most fundamental question we face as living beings to a local, national, European and international stage and to address the climate crisis as artists. In the first step towards a series of collaborations between communities, the arts, sciences and voices from the economy, PI2025 is initiating a digital project for artists from around Europe and the world reflecting on the phenomena of climate emergency from their local perspectives. Organisations can nominate an artist or a creative team to present an artistic work. The collected art works and the presentation website shall become fundamental parts of a European-wide exhibition 'The Big Picture', planned for 2025. Deadline: 30 July 2020. More information here.
ICOM: Call for Papers Museum International: Museum Collection Storage - ICOM is preparing an issue of Museum International on the theme Museum Collection Storage. All proposals submitted will be assessed for suitability and if chosen, the subsequent articles will go through a double-blind peer review process. The issue is expected to be published, in collaboration with Taylor&Francis/Routledge, in June 2021. This issue aims to contribute to the emergence of a history of museum collection storage and their professionals – which remains to be written – but above all to a reflection on their future. ICOM welcomes proposals for papers that explore this critical area of the museum endeavour. Abstracts of between 250 and 300 words, written in English, French or Spanish, should be submitted for selection to Contributions will be on a voluntary basis. Deadline: 15 August 2020. More information here.
European Solidarity Corps 2020: Call for Proposals - The European Solidarity Corps is the EU's new programme for promoting solidarity as a value, mainly through volunteering. It aims to enhance the engagement of young people and organisations in accessible and high-quality activities, thereby strengthening cohesion, solidarity, democracy and citizenship in Europe, while also responding to societal challenges. With a budget of €375.6 million for 2018-2020, it offers opportunities for young people to carry out volunteering activities, traineeships and jobs and run their own solidarity projects. Additionally, the European Solidarity Corps supports a series of Quality and Support measures and non-formal and informal learning. Organisations are now invited to apply to the annual general Call for Proposals. More information is available in the European Solidarity Corps Programme Guide. Deadline: 17 September 2020.
Music Moves Europe: “Innovative support scheme for a sustainable music ecosystem” Call for Proposals - With a budget of €2.5million, the Commission will select one consortium that will design and manage an innovative and effective support scheme that redistributes grants to recipients in the music sector, based on a needs assessment. The Commission expects to select the consortium by November 2020, to ensure that the funds can reach the recipients as early as possible in 2021. The European music ecosystem belongs to one of the cultural segments that were hit the most by the corona crisis - with an unprecedented impact on the sector’s entire value chain and massive losses incurred. The goal of this call contributes to the music sector’s recovery and post-Covid-19 development as well as the EU’s plans for a green, digital, just and resilient recovery. Deadline: 15 September 2020.
Cultural Heritage, Identities & Perspectives: Responding to Changing Societies - The Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage and Global Change (JPI CH) has announced a new funding opportunity for transnational proposals. Scholars are invited to submit research proposals on the role of heritage in society from different (inter)national perspectives and value systems. This includes questions such as what role heritage plays in the formation of identities, how institutions can manage heritage in an inclusive manner, and to what extent digitization contributes to meaningful access to heritage. The call aims to support interdisciplinary research that is set up and carried out by transnational consortia within the context of a single project. Apply by 22 September here.
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