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The CReW project
The Cultural Relations at Work (CReW) project is ﬁnanced by the Erasmus+ Programme, Jean
Monnet Activities (EAC-A03-2016). The project is coordinated by the University of Siena in
partnership with EUNIC Global.
The CReW project consists of three events and a ﬁnal conference. The ﬁrst two events took place in
Morocco (Rabat - February 2018) and the United Kingdom (London, October 2018), while the last
one is set to take place in Germany (Stuttgart – April 25 and 26, 2019). The ﬁnal conference will be in
Italy (Siena – Summer 2019) in the framework of the Siena Cultural Relations Forum and will gather
selected attendees and speakers from the previous events.
Each event focuses on one of the three work streams of the joint communication, “Towards a EU
strategy for international cultural relations” (JOIN (2016) 29 ﬁnal): (1) supporting culture as an engine
for sustainable social and economic development (Morocco), (2) reinforcing cooperation on cultural
heritage (UK), and (3) promoting culture and inter-cultural dialogue for peaceful inter-community
relations (Germany). Participants are selected among local and non-local practitioners, policy-makers
The project has four main goals:
• foster dialogue between the academic world and policy-makers;
• cross-fertilize the academic work with recent practices and inform these with the results of the
• improve the quality of professional training for practitioners and policymakers on international
cultural relations; and
• facilitate better access to content and methodologies that might be relevant for a wider audience
of academics, policy-makers and practitioners in cultural relations and cultural diplomacy.
The events encourage a combination of practice and theory and are focused on the analysis of speciﬁc
case studies. This methodological approach has two goals in mind: (1) make the practical knowledge
and theories often used in cultural relations more explicit and create a common language for
practitioners and policymakers and (2) collect and organize relevant information from the case studies
in ways that are applicable and grounded in theoretical social frameworks. The CReW project aims to
bridge the gap between what researchers do in academia and what cultural diplomats, policy-makers,
and practitioners do in their day-to-day work.
The London event: Reinforcing cooperation on cultural heritage in
the EU Neighborhood South
On October 22 and 23, 2018, the British Council at the Royal Society hosted the second CReW event
in London (United Kingdom). Coinciding with the European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH), the
conference took place at the perfect time, as the European Commission proposed a New European
Agenda for Culture‑ on May 22, 2018. The New Agenda provided the framework for the next phase of1
cooperation at the EU-level ‑ , which started at the beginning of 2019.2
The Agenda has three strategic objectives, with social, economic and external dimensions‑ . The core3
of the external dimension rests on strengthening international cultural relations, whose third
workstream, reinforcing cooperation on cultural heritage, was at the centre of the CReW Conference.
Moreover, while most actions in the New Agenda contribute primarily to one of the three objectives,
protecting and valorising cultural heritage is a cross-cutting area of policy actions at EU-level. The
Commission’s engagement on cultural heritage resulted in recommendations, principles and toolkits
to ensure the positive legacy of the Year and contribute to the New Agenda.‑ . In particular, at the4
conclusion of the EYCH, the European Commission has released a European Framework for Action
on Cultural Heritage that “reﬂects the common set-up for heritage-related activities at European
level, primarily in EU policies and programmes” and “proposes around 60 actions be implemented by
A new European Agenda for Culture, COM (2018) 267 ﬁnal. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/1
A new European Agenda for Culture, COM (2018) 267 ﬁnal, p. 2.3
Ibidem, p. 84
the European Commission in 2019 and 2020”. ‑ These actions seek to promote and protect Europe’s5
Taking advantage of such a proliﬁc moment, our attendees —-both local and non-local cultural
diplomats, practitioners, and academics—worked on the third work stream of the joint
communication, “Towards a EU strategy for international cultural relations” (JOIN (2016) 29 ﬁnal):
reinforcing cooperation on cultural heritage. In doing so, they devoted special attention to the
development of the Action Plan and its implications for the implementation of the EU Strategy,
keeping an eye on the EU Neighborhood South.
Session 1. Cases “from the ﬁeld”
The ﬁrst session provided a detailed overview of various experiences and their impact on reinforcing
the protection and valorization of tangible and intangible cultural heritage in the EU and its third-
Mr. Alexis Mocio-Mathieu, French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs: French Government Initiatives to Protect
Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage Abroad.
Kate Pugh (Chair Cultural Protection Fund Advisory Group) and Alex Bishop (Grants Manager
Cultural Protection Fund) described the UK Cultural Protection Fund’s (CPF) activities, which is a
partnership between the British Council and the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS).
The objective of the CPF is to safeguard and restore tangible and intangible cultural heritage aﬀected
by conﬂict in the wider MENA region by supporting projects responding to locally identiﬁed
development needs, with the involvement of global grantees and local partners.
Alexis Mocio-Mathieu from the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Aﬀairs entertained
participants with insight into French government initiatives to protect tangible and intangible cultural
heritage abroad. Examples included the International Conference for the Safeguarding of Cultural
Heritage in Conﬂict Areas (Abu Dhabi, December 2016) and the creation of the International
Alliance for the protection of heritage in conﬂict areas (ALIPH) in March 2017. ALIPH is an
international foundation whose purpose is to manage resources for the implementation of preventive
and emergency protection programmes for cultural property in conﬂict areas.
Finally, Miki Braniste (curator) shared her experience as a curator for the Cultural Management
Academy (CMA), a regional network of knowledge originally initiated by EUNIC cluster and now
implemented by the Goethe Institute. The CMA oﬀers a post graduate programme in four countries
(Romania, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Greece) whose goals are to build capacity and increase
the competences of the cultural operators in the region in order to engage participants from both
public and independent sectors, establish cross-border international network, and foster exchange of
expertise, best practices, and international collaboration.
Session 2. “Pracademics” at work
Taking a multidisciplinary and critical approach, academics from diﬀerent areas of research discussed
the issue of protecting tangible and intangible cultural heritage and engaged practitioners and policy-
Janet Blake, Professor of Law at the University of Shahid Beheshti (Tehran), led participants through
cultural heritage law-making at the international level, looking at the diﬀerent waves of law-making
and applying them in a broader policy context. A particular emphasis was placed on one of the latest
waves, which looks at cultural heritage as an enabler of sustainability.
Simon Dancey, CEO of Creative and Cultural Skills, addressed the protection and valorization of
cultural heritage in Latin America. Cases in Brazil and Colombia provided the audience with insight
into the radical cultural policies in each country and explained how these policies are intrinsically
linked to the development of alternative imaginaries.
Richard Higgott, research professor at VUB – Institute of European Studies (EL-CSID, European
leadership in cultural, science, and innovation diplomacy) urged a note of caution on the populist-
nationalist challenge to the protection and valorization of tangible and intangible cultural heritage at
David Mattingly, Professor of archaeology at the University of Leicester, used his experience from
working on the EAMENA project (Endangered Archaeology in the MENA region) to look at the
dimensions of the crisis and the challenges in delivering what is needed to enhance protection of the
threatened cultural heritage, especially in conﬂict areas. The EAMENA project identiﬁes and
monitors threats to the conservation of cultural heritage across the MENA region.
Session 3. The New Agenda for Culture and its external dimension. The role of the
Action Plan in Strengthening EU international cultural relations
Discussing his experience as Head of Arts and Society at the British Council, Stephen Stenning
advocated for increased cooperation among international development agencies, with a particular
focus on heritage. This would provide a real opportunity to address global challenges while
understanding local contexts, and an opportunity to ﬁnd innovative and creative responses that value
local communities and the human experience and turn down aggressive national self-interest.
Parallel workshops on how to enhance European cooperation in EU’s external action on cultural heritage
Last but not least, Gitte Zschoch, Director EUNIC Global, recalled the milestones and history of
introducing culture as a part of EU external relations, oﬀered a detailed description of the New
Agenda for Culture, and highlighted the role of EUNIC as a partner to EU Member States,
supporting cooperation and strengthening partnerships.
There is a linkage between social and cultural dynamics within the EU as a cultural heritage
community and its external relations. Nowadays, the EU is facing a deep identity crisis and there is
concern about the stability and sustainability of the European project itself.
In this framework, cultural heritage issues push us to reﬂect on the European identity and how it is
projected internationally. What we are is what we think we are and what the others think we are,
therefore interaction is fundamental.
In this sense, cooperation on cultural heritage could not only be an opportunity to improve
relations with external partners, especially in the EU Neighbourhood, but also an opportunity to
strengthen unity within the EU without sacriﬁcing cultural diversity.
Recommendations for reinforcing cooperation on cultural heritage
Cooperation on cultural heritage:An intra-EU and extra-EU joint venture
• The European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage should cover both the internal and
external dimensions of EU action. Speciﬁc packages should be developed to strengthen
cooperation on cultural heritage between EU Member States and between the EU and its third
• In practical terms, cultural heritage is an opportunity for joint action. A strategic approach is
needed and should include speciﬁc “tools”. Two packages may be envisaged: expert knowledge and
skills exchange and transfer, with a focus on digital content skills (digital reconstruction,
democratization of access to culture, databases), and a cooperation on shared heritage, within the
EU but also with accession and neighbor countries. To make it possible, sustainability of funding
is crucial (e.g. East European Performing Arts Platform), as well as an aggregated strategy for
international mobility and international accreditation of training relating to cultural heritage. We
also strongly recommend strengthening support to social activism for cultural heritage at
A participatory governance and management of cultural heritage
• Cultural heritage protection should be based on mutuality and open listening. EU institutions
should not engage with a pre-determined notion of cultural heritage but should be open to discuss
it with partner countries; moreover, policy-makers should not fear to address sensitive topics: for
example, acknowledgment of former power imbalances due to the colonial history is a step
forward to establish mutual and balanced cultural relations.
• It is necessary to avoid conditionality and promote bottom-up approaches and ethical
partnerships, by: consulting all stakeholders to promote collaboration based on priority needs;
involving partner countries in governance; engaging local institutions to address needs and
implement structural change; involving local cultural operators in decision-making and
management (e.g. interdependent ecology of partners and cross-border networks).
• Cooperation on cultural heritage should rest on some basic principles. The EU should: implement
funding mechanisms with transparent eligibility criteria and outcomes-based approach and should
facilitate Member States’ donors to take a joined approach (e.g. role of the Cultural Heritage
Funders Network); promote a broad and inclusive deﬁnition of cultural heritage and its value to
communities; favour decision making informed by appropriate expertise, best practice and
awareness of complementary initiatives.
• Building on the Joint Communication, we recommend maximizing the work of EUNIC. The
network holds expertise in working in third countries with local stakeholders and is a leading
facilitator for cooperation between EU Member States. EUNIC members, especially national
cultural institutes, have long-standing partnerships in many third countries and EUNIC itself is
already working with EU delegations.
Cultural Heritage:An ever-evolving concept
• Heritage is a holistic concept. Intangible heritage has tangible aspects and vice versa.
• Cultural heritage is a living resource. We need to address it as a ﬂuid phenomenon that is
continuously shared and shaped by multiple, coexisting heritage communities. For example,
migration ﬂows have brought multiple intangible cultural heritages to the EU. There is great
potential for cultural development based on mutual contamination and shared growth. The notion
of cultural diversity needs to be protected and valorized.
• We agree that protecting and valorising cultural heritage is a cross-cutting area of policy actions at
the EU-level, ranging from the economic to the social and external dimensions. However, we
believe it is crucial to initiate a shared reﬂection on the symbolic elements of culture, which seem
to be absent in current policies, including the New European Agenda for Culture. We strongly
recommend having space for art for sake of art’s, alongside the social and economic dimensions.
Safeguarding cultural heritage
• Threats to tangible and intangible heritage in conﬂict areas are wide-ranging and ever-evolving.
Conﬂict-related intentional destruction, looting, and vandalism have recently received heavy
media attention and caused a spread of preventive and emergency protection programmes for
cultural property, especially in the MENA region. However, they do not represent the main threat
to cultural heritage, as agricultural expansion, urban expansion, lack of planning regulations are
often more damaging. This is also due to poor enforcement of antiquity laws in the area, lack of
engagement of local policy makers, and a widespread public apathy to cultural heritage. Therefore,
we suggest that EU funding should also be allocated to strengthen additional mitigation strategies
to: enhance funding and competence of heritage agencies, inﬂuence policy makers, strengthen
legal sanctions, and invest in public heritage education
• In general terms, heritage builds on three pillars: environmental, economic, and socio-cultural. It
can provide an economic resource to communities, be a basis for social and cultural resilience, and
be a strong environmental advocate. As reported by the Faro Convention, measures taken to
safeguard cultural heritage are not some peripheral activity, but rather constitute essential actions
for progress. Cultural heritage can be used sustainably to create economic and social conditions
favourable to the survival of a plurality of heritage communities.
• Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage should be part of the broader EU policy-making with
regard to sustainability. This can be done in many areas: food security, health care, quality
education for all, environmental sustainability through stronger community-based resilience to
natural disasters and climate change, income generation through productive employment and
decent work, tourism towards sustaining livelihoods, inclusive economic development,
contributing to the peace and security dimension of sustainable development through preventing
disputes and post-conﬂict resolution.