An extensive paper on the challenges and opportunities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic for the heritage world has been issued today by Europa Nostra - The European Voice of Civil Society Committed to Cultural Heritage. Entitled
“COVID-19 & BEYOND: Challenges and Opportunities for Cultural Heritage”, this paper provides unequivocal evidence of how deeply the pandemic has affected the heritage world and makes concrete proposals to support the heritage sector through existing EU instruments and those proposed within the ‘Next Generation EU’ socio-economic recovery plan. This strategic paper has been firstly presented during this afternoon’s meeting of the European Commission Expert Group on Cultural Heritage by Europa Nostra’s Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović.
The Paper “COVID-19 & BEYOND: Challenges and Opportunities for Cultural Heritage" summarises and analyses the main findings of a consultation on this topic conducted by Europa Nostra among its large pan-European network of members and partners.
The Paper assesses implications for heritage personnel and security of jobs; implications for security of heritage sites, contents and visitors; social, cultural and financial implications; as well as implications to ensure proper communication and to keep networks alive. It provides recommendations for heritage actors and policy-makers, and points out to available EU mechanisms that can be used to tackle the various implications of the COVID-19 crisis. The Paper also differentiates between immediate impacts observed during the first months of the COVID-19 outbreak and related lockdown, from medium to longer-term implications. Finally, the Paper provides a non-exhaustive yet useful mapping of initiatives launched by heritage stakeholders in relation to cultural heritage and the pandemic, such as surveys and data collection tools as well as statements, appeals and letters.
During the 3rd meeting of the European Commission Expert Group on Cultural Heritage, held virtually on 14 and 15 October, Europa Nostra was invited to present this important Paper in the presence of Director-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture Themis Christophidou, representatives from the European Commission and members of the Expert Group.
On this occasion, Europa Nostra’s Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović stated: “This Paper will underpin Europa Nostra’s advocacy action, conducted jointly with our members and partners, to ensure that cultural heritage is duly included in the EU’s immediate response to the COVID-19 crisis as well as in the ‘Next Generation EU’ recovery plans. Indeed, Europa Nostra and our members and partners are fully convinced of the immense potential of culture and cultural heritage for Europe’s socio-economic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic and of their huge value as a powerful catalyst for the future of Europe”.
Europa Nostra’s Secretary General also invited not only members of the Expert Group, but all other heritage stakeholders - public and private - in Europe, to submit their comments on the Paper, which has to remain a “living document”. It will be updated at a later stage according to further insights and developments in relation to the pandemic. The Paper “COVID-19 & BEYOND: Challenges and Opportunities for Cultural Heritage" has already benefited from the input of the members of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3, of which Europa Nostra is co-founder and coordinator, as well as key partners of Europa Nostra.
An advanced draft of the Paper also featured prominently in a media debate entitled “COVID-19 and culture: Europe’s arts & heritage take a pandemic hit” organised by the international TV channel France 24 on September 28 with the participation of Members of the European Parliament Laurence Farreng, Niklas Nienaß and Željana Zovko. On this occasion, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović stated: “We are proud that our Paper “COVID19 & BEYOND: Challenges & Opportunities for Cultural Heritage” is becoming a reference point, already prior to its official launch”.
The Paper provides convincing evidence and concrete recommendations that will support the advocacy efforts of Europa Nostra and its partners to place cultural heritage where it belongs: at the very heart of Europe’s recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic. The Paper will be widely disseminated among heritage actors and policy-makers at all levels of governance also inviting their further input and comments.