“When I was informed that 40 million euros were going to be given for the restoration of Pompei I wrote a tweet saying how happy I was about this. Someone answered back: ‘That’s how you spend tax-payers’ money’. So I replied: ‘Yes, tax-payers’ money is well spent to preserve our common heritage”. Androulla Vassiliou, at the Europa Nostra Awards press conference, was very clear about the importance of European cultural heritage for the European Commission.
The Commissioner in charge of Education, Culture, Multilinguism and Youth was one of the special guests at the Europa Nostra Awards ceremony that took place on Friday, June 1st, at the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon.
The European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards celebrates excellence in cultural heritage conservation. The awards are supported by the European Commission in the framework of the Culture Programme. Europa Nostra has been in charge of organising the selection and the award ceremony since 2002.
There were 28 laureates this year from all over Europe. For the full list click here.
At the ceremony in Lisbon six of them were awarded a Grand Prix, which includes 10 000 euros of prize money, and one of them received the Public Choice Award, chosen in an online poll. The Public Choice Award winner for 2012 is the fortifications of Pamplona in Spain. The jury commented: “The restored fortifications are no longer a defensive wall, but a meeting place and a symbol of unity for the citizens and for the town.”
The Grand Prix laureates are the following:
· Averof Building – School of Architecture, National Technical University, Athens, Greece
· Number 2 Blast Furnace, Sagunto, Spain
· Poundstock Gildhouse, Bude, Cornwall, UK
· Study on the Augustus Botanical code of Ara Pacis, Rome, Italy
· Dedicated service to heritage by Paraschiva Kovacs, Satu Mare, Harghita County, Romania
· An educational programme for a heritage site developed by the Norwegian Heritage Foundation, Vågå, Norway
The 28 winners were selected from among 226 submitted projects from 38 countries. The final choice was made by juries composed of independent experts from across Europe. The winners receive a plaque or trophy.
The names of the winners of the Public Choice Award and the six ‘Grand Prix’ laureates were announced in the presence of Androulla Vassiliou and Plácido Domingo, the world-renowned tenor and President of Europa Nostra. The ceremony was attended by an audience of 1200 people including Aníbal Cavaco Silva, President of Portugal, and Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Asturias.
The awards ceremony in Lisbon forms part of Europa Nostra’s annual European Heritage Congress. One of the themes of this year’s Congress was ‘Saving Europe’s Endangered Heritage’.
Cultural heritage brings a significant – and often underrated – contribution to growth and job creation. It represents a significant part of the cultural and creative sectors, which provide jobs for 8.5 million people in the EU and contribute up to 4.5% of Europe’s GDP. Spending on conservation of cultural heritage by public and private bodies is worth an estimated €5 billion a year. Figures published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that 40% of worldwide international tourism has a cultural dimension. Cultural heritage is also a key resource for sustainable development and social cohesion.
The Culture programme of the European Union has invested €30 million in co-financing heritage projects since 2007. Other EU-funded programmes also provide support in this area: since 2007 the European Regional Development Fund has allocated €3 billion for the protection and preservation of cultural heritage, €2.2 billion for the development of cultural infrastructure and €775 million to support cultural services; a further €150 million has been invested through EU Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development since 1998.
The deadline to apply for the next awards is 1 October 2012. The next awards ceremony is expected to take place in Athens in June 2013.