Periodic Reporting for period 2 - REACH (Re-designing access to CH for a wider participation in preservation, (re)use and management ofEuropean culture)
Reporting period: 2019-05-01 to 2020-12-31
The project was to explore top-down, bottom-up, participatory heritage and governance approaches, underpinned by the concept of resilient CH, the ability to adapt to a disturbance, and also the recognition of female roles within CH, as these have traditionally been overlooked.
REACH was to:
• develop a sustainable network aggregating the widest range of stakeholders and audiences,
• implement a programme of public encounters (workshops, symposium, conferences and meeting with local stakeholders) focusing on participatory approaches to preservation, (re-)use, and management of CH
• publish an online portal (reach-culture.eu and open-heritage.eu websites) to give access as a repository of resources to be exploited in research activities
• test REACH concepts through four pilots (Minority, Institutional, Rural and Small towns’ heritage) that were of diverse natures, working with different types of communities, in different situations and political climates.
Having considered the work of these projects, the findings informed the development of a conceptual framework, and together with content from the REACH conference in Budapest, a series of participatory models were developed, to be tested by four participatory pilots (Minority, Institutional, Rural and Small towns' heritage). In parallel, workshops that addressed the underpinning themes of management, (re-)use and preservation of CH, as well as resilient CH, were held to gather perspectives from a broad range of stakeholders, with their results also used to refine the project’s participatory models.
Throughout the project, good practice cases continued to be assessed, some of which were refined to become best practice case studies. Evaluation of activity took place to identify evidence of resilience in CH, comparing theory and practice, and ultimately making a series of recommendations. Given the project’s remit to develop and test participatory models, further evaluation took place that compared the pilots, and ultimately identified a number of common CH related participatory themes, once more outlining a series of recommendation for use by other interested parties.
Throughout the project, details of the all strands of its work were shared via the REACH website, reach-culture.eu its blog and through multiple social media channels, ensuring that findings and results were disseminated to the network that had continually grown. The open-heritage.eu website was also populated during this time to include a series of resources, tools and policy papers, as well as REACH good practice cases, to provide a base for CH sector-wide collaboration.
In addition to open-heritage.eu the project team took its requirements as a social platform seriously. With the remit to bring together relevant heritage stakeholders’ representatives from research communities, SMEs, heritage practitioners of all kinds, as well as policy-makers, to participate in a symposium in Brussels and collective video call; the main objective being to establish a coordination structure that would strengthen the voice of the CH community and provide a place to share result and best practices and maintain the work and impact of projects after they have ended.
The Institutional heritage pilot took place at a time when museums were actively self-critiquing their role and actively moving away from the image of storehouses of collective ‘Memory’ and ‘History’ to become vibrant meeting-places for intergenerational, cross-cultural dialogue. Pilot museums are now including community expertise – heritage from below – in their collections. It is clear that the interpersonal exchanges between stakeholders, as well as the external critical analysis, has given valuable support to museum practitioners, encouraging new participatory ideas when the making new exhibitions, including co-creation, or indeed, co-curation.
Rural heritage pilot activities in Spain, oriented towards the irrigator communities and the traditional irrigation systems, have resulted in an increase of acknowledgment and awareness of their importance from a cultural, environmental, social and agronomic point of view. Changes in attitudes of those responsible involved the pilot in hydrological planning for the new programme (2021- 2027). The work in Andalusia has built on creating and sustaining relationships with the various irrigation communities, empowering them through work on several local community agrarian and environmental policies, supporting them through meetings with rural federations, policy makers and lobbying both academics and administrators to ensure that rural areas are given a higher political focus and status.
The Small towns’ heritage pilot is already evidencing demonstrable impact in the field of CH research and formal education, as its results will be built upon by the KREAS project to populate an online database and interactive map of resilient places in Central Europe; this then feeds into Higher Education programmes.
The REACH team understood the need to bring CH stakeholders together to create an environment for sharing knowledge and expertise. The successful symposium and sector-wide consultation brought consensus that a research CH cluster was needed, with a Position Paper formally sent to the European Commission in July 2019. Meetings with significant CH stakeholders during 2020, confirmed interest in the development of a coordination structure. The ultimate objective is to support the CH research sector and to generate a unified voice, to demonstrate the importance of CH. This has been a significant strand of the REACH work and its initial impact is apparent through the statements of commitment. This action is set to continue, even after the project has officially concluded.