The 30 winners of the 2013 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards have been honoured at a ceremony in Athens.
Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and world-famous tenor Plácido Domingo, President of NGO Europa Nostra, announced the seven winners of the Grand Prix, selected by a jury of experts, as well as the winner of the Public Choice Award, chosen by an online poll.
The ceremony took place in the Odeion of Herodes Atticus, at the foot of the Acropolis, at the centre of the Greek capital, in front of an audience of up to 5,000 people. Coincidence or not, it was the Propylaea Central Building of the Acropolis which won the Public Choice Award. All the winners receive a plaque or trophy while the seven Grand Prix winners also receive €10,000 each.
During the award ceremony, Plácido Domingo, said: “Athens, the cradle of Europe’s democracy, is the perfect setting in which to pay tribute not only to the winners of our awards, but also to all the citizens and communities that are strongly engaged in safeguarding our cultural and natural heritage.”
‘It is in times of crisis that culture is most needed’
Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth defended the fact that public money is being spent on cultural events: “During these difficult days we go through in many member states in our union, I often hear people argue that public spending on culture is a luxury we cannot afford. I would argue the opposite. It is in times of crisis that culture is most needed.”
In a statement, the European Commission explained that cultural heritage, “brings a significant contribution to job creation and growth. (…) [It] provides jobs for around eight million people in the EU and contributes up to 4.5 percent of Europe’s GDP. Spending on conservation of cultural heritage by public and private bodies is worth an estimated €5 billion a year.”
Watch the award ceremony with Androulla VASSILIOU, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth
The seven Grand Prix winners are:
Tallinn Seaplane Harbour, Estonia (Conservation)
Roman Theatre of Medellin, Spain (Conservation)
Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, United Kingdom (Conservation)
Restoration of the Exceptional Machines of Wielemans-Ceuppens Brewery, Brussels, Belgium (Research)
Association for the Promotion of Art and Culture in the Eastern Part of Germany, Berlin, Germany (Dedicated service)
SOS Azulejo Project, Loures, Portugal(Education, training and awareness-raising)
Public Choice Award: Propylaea Central Building, Acropolis, Athens, Greece (Conservation)
Picture of Placido Domingo and video of the press conference’s credits © European Union, 2013