The European Heritage Days, a joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Commission since 1999, are the most widely celebrated participatory cultural events in Europe. The pan-European nature of the programme contributes to bringing citizens together and highlighting the European dimension of cultural heritage in the 50 signatory States of the European Cultural Convention. Up to 70 000 events (with 30 million visitors expected) are organised until the end of October in order to help raise awareness of the value of this common heritage and the need for its conservation for present and future generations.
For its 2020 edition, #EuropeanHeritageDays (EHD) are celebrating the role of education in heritage – and heritage’s role in education. As well as being a rich resource for learning, the heritage of education itself offers a doorway to our shared European common past and the many traditions that we take for granted today. From the role that Latin played in the life of medieval scholars across Europe, to its current use as the language of law, science and technology there are multiple educational links that we continue to share across our European borders.
“The European Heritage Days offer all citizens a unique opportunity to better understand how culture brings us together. Culture and cultural heritage are both an essential factor of social and economic development, as well as an important tool for creating a climate conducive of mutual understanding of European cultural diversity and richness. Education has always been a core part of the European Heritage Days and it features in all aspects of the programme.” said Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
Despite the restrictions posed by COVID-19 in the organisation of this year’s EHD season, the programme’s network of National Co-ordinators have proposed a wide range of alternatives creating a digital offering in the form of a video, photo gallery, virtual tour, podcast, blog, webinar or story of their venue to be featured online.
“This year, in addition to physical events, European Heritage Days is proposing a most impressive digital offering, providing a long-term legacy for its many thousands of monuments and sites. We are proud to present a programme which is both local-led and truly accessible by everyone across our entire continent. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the disruption of the sector’s traditional way of working, making the digital transformation of cultural heritage institutions more relevant than ever. In the light of this, the European Commission has launched a public consultation on digitisation in the cultural heritage sector with a view to shaping the appropriate policy framework and actions to preserve Europe’s valuable cultural assets and to give better visibility to its unique cultural diversity. The public consultation is open until September 14th, so I strongly encourage you to contribute to it” said Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.
Celebrated in the 50 signatory States to the European Cultural Convention, the European Heritage Days highlight the diversity of local skills, traditions, architectural styles and works of art that constitute shared European heritage. Launched by the Council of Europe in 1985 in France, the Days have been organised as a joint initiative of the European Commission and the Council of Europe since 1999. Enabling citizens to explore a wide range of cultural assets through a number of themed events, European Heritage Days help uncover histories of people and places that have contributed to shape the culture and heritage of Europe.
The European Heritage Days raise awareness of heritage, both tangible and intangible, which has helped to shape people’s culture throughout history, thus promoting understanding of the past to better shape the future. Heritage is about objects and places, and the meanings and uses that people attach to them and the values they represent. The European Heritage Days develop and strengthen a feeling of belonging and of responsibility for heritage, underlining the relevance of human rights and democracy.
Their aim is to increase understanding of a shared European past, encourage appreciation of traditional values and inspire new heritage conservation and education practices. Cultural heritage has always been recognised as a priority by the Council of Europe. It is also a pivotal theme under Creative Europe, the EU’s programme for the cultural and creative sectors, supporting the European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage, adopted in December 2018 to secure the long term impact of the European Year of Cultural Heritage.