Participatory governance of cultural heritage (Publication)

Posted: Thursday, 10 January 2019

The European Commission have published the report of THE OMC (Open Method of Coordination) working group of Member States' experts on Participatory governance of cultural heritage.

The Council of the European Union in its ‘Conclusions on the Participatory Governance of Cultural Heritage' of November 2014 called for the involvement of the public and private sectors at all levels of decision-making, and invited the Commission to promote a participatory approach to the governance of cultural heritage.

It also called for increased cooperation among EU Member States in order to identify and disseminate best practices on bottom-up approaches for joint inclusive management of cultural heritage. Consequently, a working group of national experts from 26 Member States and Norway was set up within the framework of the Work Plan for Culture 2015-2018. Its objective was to identify innovative models of participatory governance of cultural heritage.

This handbook consists of practical advice primarily for cultural heritage professionals and institutions. However, it has the general aim of moving the participatory governance of cultural heritage from abstract notions to concrete actions and therefore other interested parties, such as politicians and policy-makers, will also find parts of it useful.

'Participatory governance is about strengthening the relationship between cultural heritage institutions and professionals, and everyone interested or engaged in cultural heritage - civil society, the public, owners, caretakers, businesses, etc. It affects the professional role because it demands both knowledge of cultural heritage, and knowledge of the relevance of cultural heritage in society and of the relations between people and cultural heritage.

Governance is a word used to express the movement from governing towards involving stakeholders in processes commonly reserved for and run by experts, officials and politicians. Its key aspects of participation and access have been popular in cultural policies for a long time. However, this has been the case more in relation to ideas, ambitions and visions; participatory governance of cultural heritage expresses the will to move towards more participation in everyday, common practice.

Participatory governance of tangible, intangible and digital cultural heritage is an innovative approach, introducing a real change in how cultural heritage is managed and valued. It is also more sustainable in the long term than the approach used to date.'

Click here to access this publication.