EU National Institutes for Culture - EUNIC

Cultural heritage for inclusive and resilient communities, sustainable future and stronger global partnerships

During the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, EUNIC worldwide implemented projects fostering cultural heritage, emphasising its value to society, its contribution to the economy and the importance of safeguarding common cultural heritage.

In March 2018 EUNIC Global has launched a special EUNIC Cluster Fund Call for Proposals to support projects on the ground in Europe and third countries to foster cultural heritage with a total budget of 111,000 euros. The Cluster Fund is EUNIC’s single most important internal funding instrument. The project proposals were encouraged to contribute to the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 by emphasizing heritage's value to society, contribution to the economy and the importance of safeguarding common cultural heritage. The special call supported 11 projects with some of the projects running throughout 2018, 2019 and into 2020, beyond the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

11 EUNIC cluster projects during the European Year of Cultural Heritage

  1. In Córdoba, Argentina through a series of workshops the EUR 8,000 project intended to develop the capacities of local libraries in Argentina which also act as neighbourhood centres connecting communities with tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

  2. EUNIC Croatia’s EUR 18,000 project highlighted how borders have changed in our recent past, what their importance is today and what the active role of the European Union has been in this process. Starting in 2018 with a conference and debate in Zagreb, the project organised a series of educational activities and activities for families (picnic, exhibition, interactive installation, performance, laboratories with schools) taking place in Vukovar, a city suffering the war in ex-Yugoslavia at the border with Serbia. The project has been extended in 2019 and brought to other borders in Europe where similar initiatives are taking place (for example: Hungary-Austria, Italy-Slovenia, Germany-Poland) connecting citizens and local initiatives in these places.

  3. Through training seminars and workshops EUNIC Iran’s EUR 19,600 project intended to develop skills and international network capacities of professionals in the Iranian public sector working on cultural heritage management running between 2018 and 2019 focusing on the improvement of the employment and economic opportunities of the local cultural operators.

  4. EUNIC Jordan organised Heritage Days, a 10-day long series of events to discover unknown, or lesser-known Jordanian historical sites through trainings and workshops with European and Jordanian experts for the local population and awareness programmes through drama to help locals better understand their heritage sites and develop tools to protect and promote them. The total budget for the project was EUR 66,000.

  5. EUNIC Lithuania’s project aimed to raise awareness of a lesser-known side of European cultural heritage: the work of the Lithuanian photographer Antanas Sutkus. The retrospective was developed by three curators from Germany, France and Lithuania with three exhibitions in the countries mentioned above.

  6. In Moscow, the EUNIC cluster implemented an exchange programme for young Russian curators focusing on the relationship between contemporary art and the cultural heritage surrounding it.

  7. EUNIC Rabat delivered a touring library with books in Arabic, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese in cities and regions with limited access to culture. The tour also included workshops on audience development and children’s literature.

  8. EUNIC Romania with the support of the local community revived an abandoned open air cinema in Eforie, built in the 1960s, by reopening it for 5 days during which films were screened every evening and educational activities were organised for families in the afternoon. The project responds to the disappearance of cinemas throughout Romania, where lesser known cities such as Eforie do not currently have an operating cinema.

  9. In Sri Lanka, the cluster developed a EUR 150,000 multidisciplinary arts festival Cinnamon Colomboscope exploring the Indian Ocean as a space of regional collective memory and intercultural dialogue through an itinerary of venues located along the coastline of Colombo. It also explored a wider topic of climate change and sustainability. The programme included: visual art installations, public talks, films, performances, curator tours and a school programme.

  10. EUNIC Toronto has been supported to deliver “Remembering”, a 3-year project bringing together artists, curators, thinkers, activists and experts to explore memorial processes, archive and contemporary narratives. The first year focused on the issue of memory transmission through archives in an event with a joint panel of European experts as a feature of the Holocaust Education Week. It was followed by a series of school talks, academic talks, workshops and art performances. The second and third years are expected to explore respectively the history of LGBTQ rights and the impact of gay activism; as well as the living memory and culture of indigenous peoples of Canada and Europe and the question of cultural erasure as a product of colonialism. As each phase of the project focuses on controversial periods in history, the EUNIC cluster wants to shed light on these events and facilitate access to original archival material and build strong relationships with partners from the local community.

  11. EUNIC Turkey with clusters from Ankara and Istanbul developed a project on intercultural dialogue based on common heritage between Europe and Turkey including a conference in Istanbul on identity and culture drivers in the EU-Turkey relations, in connection with the EU-funded project FEUTURE (H2020) and a study on Ankara’s architecture of European origin that is at risk of disappearing.

Beyond the European Year of Cultural Heritage

Beyond the European Year of Cultural Heritage, EUNIC’s clusters and members have been addressing the topic of tangible and intangible cultural heritage. For instance, the EUNIC cluster in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, organised a project with local partners and UNESCO as well as the EU Delegation to advance the case of Congolese Rumba music to be inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Word Heritage list, supporting research and festivals around the topic.

Another project in Brazil looked at the heritage of the year 1968 and what kind of repercussions it has today both in the different European countries affected by the political developments of this year and in Brazil through an artistic lense, by organising a photography exhibition and several panel discussions. The EUNIC members in Brazil are in this year starting a new project that look as the heritage of the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro which was destroyed in 2018.

The cluster in South Africa has inititiated a project on “Repurposing Colonial and Apartheid Architecture and Infrastructure together with the History Workshop and the School of Architecture and Planning of Wits University in Johannesburg. Objectives of the project are to explore possibilities and challenges for the future of colonial and apartheid architecture and infrastructure; to use architecture and infrastructure as a tool to address questions of colonialism and Apartheid; to provide a platform for South African, African and European experts to address their shared history; and to develop an African network of experts. Besides academic discussion on the topic, artists are invited to engage with these architectural remnants in an engaging, thought provoking way and make the topic accessible to a broader public.

Regional activities

EUNIC members, beyond the examples showcased above, gathered extensive experience in delivering projects which focus on creating inclusiveness and resilience, cohesiveness within and between communities, sustainable future and stronger global partnerships through cultural heritage.

For example, since 2016 the British Council has been running the Cultural Protection Fund, a GBP 30 million initiative to support projects to protect heritage at risks in 12 target countries encompassing the North of Africa and the Middle-East focusing on cultural heritage and resilience: safeguarding endangered heritage. A total of 51 projects have so far taken place across 12 countries, with 17 running until 2021.

The Goethe-Institut has recently developed a transnational project of German Colonial Heritage in African countries looking at the artistic and cultural perspectives, as well as a project on the future of museum in post-colonial countries of the African continent. The Goethe-Institut and Institut francais also looked at cultural heritage for an inclusive Europe focusing on participation and access for all through the Heritage parkour project using the techniques of ‘parkour’ to experience cultural and heritage sites in Morocco and in Berlin.

Since 2019, EUNIC is part of the expert group on Cultural Heritage by the European Commission taking part in discussions and policy dialogue on the legacy of the European Year of Cultural Heritage and future initiatives in this area.

  • Cultural relations
  • Heritage