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Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2021-12-31

The way cultural heritage is preserved and enhanced is a major factor defining Europe's identity and its place in the world. Moreover, jobs are created by the conservation, management and promotion of cultural heritage, and these activities contribute to sustainable growth and social cohesion. High quality interventions in cultural heritage and cultural landscapes contribute to local communities’ well-being and to the development of sustainable cultural tourism. On the other hand, examples of low-quality interventions in the historical environment and cultural heritage sites give rise to complaints from experts and citizens.
In this framework, it is necessary to ensure that interventions in cultural heritage at local, national and European level have positive impacts on all dimensions of society and, consequently, to support cultural operators, practitioners, academics and policy makers to, on the one hand, identify the most effective instruments and tools to measure the impacts of such interventions and, on the other, to establish shared quality standards that address both the creation of policies and the direct interventions.
Against this background, the overall objective of the project is to promote collective reflection within the cultural and political sector in Europe on the impact and quality of interventions in European historical environment and cultural heritage sites at urban level in order to promote a holistic impact assessment model, indicators and standards.
Therefore, this research program aims at defining and validating a model for the holistic assessment of cultural intervention through the set-up of a social platform. The Social Platform aims at gathering a vast and diverse community of stakeholders from different fields and disciplines interested in interventions in historical environment and cultural heritage sites in Europe, that will work together towards the definition of quality standards and of guidelines for future policies and programmes. With the constant active participation of the social platform, SoPHIA will implement an in-depth analysis on the research and policies developed in this field around four main analytical dimensions which identify the most important challenges and opportunities linked to cultural heritage interventions in Europe.
Here are reported the main results of the word done during the first year of the project:
• Consortium underwent an extensive review of the research literature and related policies in the 4 domains (social, cultural, environmental, economic) to implement a map of existing research, policies and practices relating to impact assessment of intervention in cultural heritage in Europe. Moreover, an analysis of gaps and main issues related to the impact assessment and quality of interventions on cultural heritage (related to the four domains) was implemented.
• Consortium organized the first workshop with a select group of stakeholders and the Advisory Board and to prioritise the types and areas of interventions and policies that will be analysed throughout the project. It was supposed to be held in Athens in M5 but, due to the Covi-19 pandemic, it had been moved online.
• The Consortium developed a holistic impact assessment model draft. It is a three-axes framework (people-time-domains) proposed by the Consortium and it adopts an intersectoral approach to the impact analysis. It reports 9 themes, 50 subthemes and a great number of qualitative and quantitative indicators and tools, chosen by partners to ensure an adequate impact measurement process.
• In order to map best practices related to both impact assessment and quality of interventions taking into account the 4 domains, the Consortium underwent an extensive analysis of the information retrieved during the first months of the research work and engaged stakeholders and ABs by sharing a sharing a questionnaire on best and bad practices, in order to collect information from their personal experience.
• The Consortium selected relevant case studies of interventions to test the impact assessment model draft. Partners discussed the criteria for the selection of the case studies and chose the following: location (urban context), nature of cultural heritage intervention, type of cultural heritage, access of the partner to the case, data availability, stage of implementation of the intervention, typology of funding (from different donors), financial dimension value, and physical dimension.
• The Consortium started to test the impact assessment draft model in different contexts through the analysis of relevant case studies. Partners started to collect data and documents related to the selected case studies.
• The Consortium built and reinforced the network of relations and interactions among Consortium partners, ABs and stakeholders.
• Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, partners managed to consolidate their relations with relevant ABs and stakeholders through a diverse set of activities and tools. In particular:
- ABs and stakeholders were invited to the Athens Virtual Workshop and in in-person meetings with partners. The Consortium produced working documents to actively engage them during these events.
- ABs and stakeholders were invited to use SoPHIA platform and website.
- ABs and stakeholders had received information and newsletter on the SoPHIA project.
• The Consortium designed a coherent and solid visual identity for the project, its website and all its deliverables to be easily recognised by the general public, stakeholders, policy makers, etc. and to strengthen the sense of belonging to the SoPHIA community.
• Consortium communicated, disseminated and socialised the project outputs and deliverables within the Social Platform (partners and stakeholders) and beyond to reach a wide range of people and professionals using the projects’ channels (website and online platform) and main social media platforms.
• Partners disseminated SoPHIA’s finding by participating to other international projects’ events.
• Despite the ongoing pandemic, the Consortium ensured high-quality coordination and delivery of the project outputs according to the proposed work plan.
SoPHIA expects the following results to be achieved by the end of the project:
- Helping the community of practices to highlight/raising awareness on impacts related to interventions on CH through their engagement in the project and the case studies’ analysis.
- Increased engagement of the community of practices through the project’s social media and digital tools.
- Increased capabilities of local communities (associations and groups) and professionals through dedicated workshops/events/meetings.
- Increased awareness of the scientific community through scientific publications and conference papers.
- New guidelines and tools to be tested in the field of high education.

Moreover, the following potential impacts are expected:
- To help the decision-makers in allocating and using the resources provided for interventions in CH.
- More awareness in monitoring and managing the interventions on CH.
- More awareness in the importance of the people engagement in the managing and assessment processes.
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