Writen by Rui Maio and Aleksandra Kozieł
The European Heritage days is an annual joint initiative from the Council of Europe and European Commission, involving about 40 countries, aiming to raise awareness and interest of citizens for the affairs related to the preservation and safeguarding of world heritage for future generations, which will take place between the 25 and 27 of September. These countries are invited to promote a program of activities at a national level, offering opportunities to visit buildings, monuments and sites, which are not normally accessible to the public, in function of the theme proposed for each year. This year theme regards the “industrial and technical heritage: putting the spots on the roots of today’s technology and industry”. According to ICOMOS and TICCIH (The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage), the definition of industrial heritage consists of sites, structures, complexes, areas and landscapes as well as the related machinery, objects or documents that provide evidence of past or ongoing industrial processes of production, the extraction of raw materials, their transformation into goods, and the related energy and transport infrastructures. Industrial heritage reflects the profound connection between the cultural and natural environment, as industrial processes – whether ancient or modern – depend on natural sources of raw materials, energy and transportation networks to produce and distribute products to broader markets. It includes both material assets – immovable and movable – and intangible dimensions such as technical know‐how, the organisation of work and workers, and the complex social and cultural legacy that shaped the life of communities and brought major organisational changes to entire societies and the world in general. Therefore, this variety of activities should bring together all generations, let everyone find something for them. It is not a suprise, that many workshops, seminars, meetings or exhibitions expect adult participants, that are aware of the heritage importance. What is more, multiple events are prepared considering whole families.
Poland embraces the European Heritage Days initiative for the 23rd occasion. The main organization responsible for EHD is the National Heritage Board of Poland. This year the main theme of the event is entitled The Lost Heritage, which have a very special meaning. First of all, because it is connected with celebration of 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II, and by this topic, it is focused on massive losses of cultural heritage Poland suffered. Additionally, this anniversary is also reason to emphasize part of material identity that was lost as a result of resettlements and border changes after World War II. Another topic that is highlighted with reference to the Lost Heritage is the huge loss of national treasures, collections, as well as local traditions, beliefs and customs that are being forgotten. There is also another topic connected with the Lost Heritage, focused more as a topic for public debate on reason why and how we should protect heritage, that is not yet forgotten, but in the future it can be lost as, for example, postindustrial heritage.
Although main dates of EHD are 25th, 26th and 27th of September, events in Poland will last the whole month. Regional heritage will be promoted by multiple initiatives in each region of Poland. Thereby the audience can choose whether they want to participate in workshops, seminars, conferences, debates, guided tours, the openings of exhibitions, concerts, thematic games for children etc. The events will take place in castles, galleries, open-air museums, local cultural centers, all that to ensure access to regional culture, to share with a wider audience aspects that are very often little known or disappearing, especially nowadays. Children and youth are invited to participate in actions like on the castle in Sandomierz, where after lecture they will have a chance to recreate and draw the parts of the castle that do not exist anymore, or a strategy game based on the battle re-enactment in one of Prussian fortresses in Kędzierzyn Koźle. There is a proposition of design workshop in Bytom, with the special focus on ethnodesign. It will be connected with lecture and discussion with focus on the question whether ethnodesign is a chance to promote folk culture or a threat of shallowing heritage. Previously, European Heritage Days in Poland brought together around 240.000 visitors in 370 sites. There was approximately 1540 events. For this September the list of all events is not yet closed. So the statistics are not available, however within numerous propositions each and every person interested in heritage will find interesting activity.
In Portugal, the Director General of Cultural Heritage (DGPC) is the promoter organisation responsible to disseminate the national program of the European Heritage days 2015, so that this event can engage and captivate a larger audience, particularly of young people. DGPC invites both public and private entities to join this initiative, which are intended to organise and provide cultural activities such as: opening of monumental sites of both historical and heritage interest to public (preferably entrance free); workshops, talks, conferences, debates and seminars about the proposed theme; organising guided and thematic tours free of charge in strategic monumental sites; artistic events related to music, dance, theatre, performing arts contextualised within the theme; exhibitions; concerts performed in historical sites; street entertainment; photographic contests; reading sessions or even release of publications. The city Council of Vila Real de Santo António through the Research and Information Centre of Cacela’s Heritage (CIIPC) has join once again the commemorations of the European Heritage Days, inviting families to visit Benémola and learn more about the lime manufacturing process of this village, which once was full of intense activity in this particular craft industry. Nowadays, only a few old earthenware ovens and the memories of the older population remains. Therefore, to perpetuate these structures and memories, families and children are invited to learn more about this traditional craft industry through several educational games and activities, including the construction of a small earthenware oven sample.