Travel Diary

INT-HERIT is a network of cities that share and learn together in the implementation scenario of their cultural heritage management strategies. A type of methodology poorly known and tested for the first time by the URBACT Programme. Both for URBACT and for the other actors involved (cities, experts, interested parties…) it was an unknown landscape. What has happened along the way, what lessons are drawn from the INT-HERIT network, especially from the eyes of a navigator placed in the internal team of the Leading Partner of the Consortium? A journey in several steps from handwritten notes in the travel notebook…

Step 1

Observe, monitor, analyse, evaluate, capture knowledge from the process of implementation of the plans. This is not a common practice of either the promoter of the plans, or those other external organisations financing them.

Typically, controls have focused on the administrative performance, not considering, in general, the opportunity to put in place a knowledge capturing and learning system or device. The task is, as a rule, of a controlling nature and designed to guarantee a good administrative praxis, but the potential to wear a different hat and sleuth for the gossip and rumours of the operational framework, the “small print” of the process and, in general, to initiate an exhaustive scan of the implementation metabolism of the plan is just forgotten. A banquet to be served by lawyers and accountants, but there are not many systems analysts, pedagogues or philosophers in its preparation, to name just some professions who love the method.

In this sense, the internal work dynamics themselves, within the experimental implementation networks promoted by URBACT, have been cooked over low heat. From the beginning, the landscape of the implementation was defined around the margins of the road where challenges, both mandatory and optional, are often waiting for those travelling implementation. There is no doubt that they were good landmarks too. Implementation voyagers can easily return to them if they get lost, to find them turned into transversal axes of knowledge, articulators of observation and reflective analysis, carved menhirs to guide pilgrims.

Once the path was marked, the cities within these networks needed an operating system. Different experts and stakeholders were called to design the internal mechanism, a necessarily slow process of construction and deconstruction of the parts, as if it were a Meccano set, until they came up with the precise organs that would eventually set up the Operational Implementation Framework.

But let us leave the method in peace and return to the cities and their plans.

Step 2

The plans or strategies are the starting point of the implementation race for the cities of the INT-HERIT network. Let us look back on the itinerary followed for the past two years and take some comments from our logbook:

  • The plan

Is it a plan when we talk about small cities and competencies that are not underlined as core municipal tasks such as heritage management? In many cases, they are unevenly connected and interconnected actions, given the high external dependence of these small local authorities in order to secure stable investment in objectives that go beyond their basic responsibilities. Between this apparent improvisation and the lack of a plan, reality forces us to be aware of the opportunities that external financing presents, as an interviewed mayor pointed out.

This being the case, the investment deficit is closely associated with the management deficit in all its components. Only municipal political commitment to safeguarding the hallmark of local heritage and, in short, to meeting human needs explains the cities engagement with cultural goods and hence with their citizens’ heart and soul. Pure European DNA.

In any case, with a more or less formal plan established, could you tell what are the expected results? What vision awaits at the end of the road, what scenario? Questions to strengthen the progress and prepare the trip, in sum.

  • The environment

Comme ci comme ça, the perception changes daily. The political and social framework surrounding heritage management in small municipalities can be seen as an impossible challenge or a commitment that cannot be postponed. Centralised management of heritage assets still carries great weight in a large number of European States. Even in those countries where the balance of powers allows for municipal intervention on municipally-owned assets, small cities are in general left to their own devices. There, vertical integration is not the prominent feature, save in exceptional cases, where the extraordinary quality of the assets or a skilled local management triggers this process. Neither is cultural tourism the magic solution, nor the manna that will heal the infirm municipal coffers when the offer spreads from all corners of the continent, the available resources are scarce, and consumers do not always choose this kind of tourism, even though statistics indicate global increases. In smaller municipalities, quite often this income is a bird of passage, unable to provide economic sustainability to the management of cultural goods.

In summary, a bird’s-eye view does not seem to give vital clues or magical solutions to guide implementation, clearing up the doubts to come. Is it better to take the risk and make progress in the management of an archaeological site or let this opportunity sleep the sleep of the just?

  • The operational framework

It is no coincidence that this point is at the heart of our journal. And what a pity that so very little attention is paid to the daily practice of municipal management. What little interest and what a lot of knowledge flowing into the waste stream.

If we emphasize the importance of the operational framework, it is because this is where we can appreciate the details of the small things. Here each piece, regardless of its size, is called to provide high-quality system performance or dangerously lead to failure.

Human and social values, behavioural patterns that should not be alien to management practices join the journey at this point on the road. Caution when it comes to undertaking certain investments or the regulated and scalable nature thereof, gains importance when weighing decisions. Anchoring socially and politically the steps to be taken, when talking about common heritage, is another applauded recommendation. The code for good implementers also includes a fair assessment of the surrounding constraints, and testing prototypes and pilot actions before drawing a highway to heaven. Everything is easier if done in good company, surrounded by professional teams with the know how to eventually cross the T’s and dot the I’s. It is essential to have the will, the effort and the commitment, they are the necessary fuel for the operational machinery to ascend when the road becomes steep. And if we have to change tack, we do. The important thing is that each long journey always begins with a first step and the path is made by walking. Learning from that is like the philosopher’s stone of implementation. A gem not always sought after.

  • Monitoring and tracking

As a result of the above mentioned circumstances, passengers find themselves playing a board game. The game of Implementation. That is what our wager is called and it casts us inescapably, like Alice in her Wonderland, into a bottomless abyss, a sinister black hole.

And it is not that we were not warned. Without indicators, data collection, gait recorders, risk analysts and evaluators of the implementation, falls can be resounding and so it happens too often.

Some common sense would not hurt. Huge excuses have been heard when again and again we have talked about this challenge with INT-HERIT stakeholders in nine European countries. Regardless of the magnitude of the investments, the quality and the formality of the management plans, the typology and character of their patrimonial assets, here is the feature common to all cities that, believe it, almost without exception proves the rule.

We refer to common sense because it shares this socialising feature with heritage and human beings. It is assumed that it accompanies us as human beings and, by extension, those goods that are, or should be, part of the common weal. It does not seem difficult to send, as a standard practice, information and data trackers, place some probes to capture impacts, take advantage of internal and external information nodes on the side of the simplest of roads. And yet, how passive the listening, almost deafness conducting this piece of the implemented concert.

Even at Programme level, it has been very difficult to glean some example cases, some stories showing effective solutions related to this monitoring hunger, as paradoxical as it is ignorant in the full bloom of big data. Recognition of our unenlightenment?

  • The performance

In this travel notebook the moment of execution motivates an anticipation movement. If, at the point of departure, the eye was invited to look in the distance at the implementation results, to specify them, once the gear unit is started up to execute the actions, the attention should not be distracted from the uses and users that results must reach and benefit.

Keep uses and users not only in mind but also, physically, in the space of the intervention. This is an advantageous warning for all seafarers that can prevent errors or imbalances in the final result.

This way, the risk of seeing infrastructures or facilities closed or implementation spaces that live in the limbo of broken dreams can be planned ahead, avoiding situations in which there is no backward step to take and no public way to follow. If the uses and users were at the control room from the starting line in this implementation trip, it would probably not be necessary to come to the rescue of any implementer arrested in the ‘in jail” square of the board, always eager to satisfy its hunger.

  • Lessons learnt

Slightly changing the indolent practice described at the beginning of this notebook, things should go better as regards knowledge management, namely also implementation management.

The road widens once saved the initial uneven part, and the gains can illustrate the decision making of all stakeholders involved in the game: political representatives, professional teams, interested parties, private entities, citizens and organised society.

The final stage in a long tour

Under the asphalt, there are people, organised groups and participatory governance. Under the pavement, as a deep yearning that underlies the flagstones of the implementation road to any plan, the participatory method ready to be endorsed and finally come to the surface to stay. Praised its necessity, nothing remains but to deepen the practice. Let the implementation process not be shipwrecked once offshore. This requires a method adapted to the changing and executive circumstances that govern it.

At the end and the beginning, in the absence of rigid plans, may at least come flexible, operational and monitored dynamics of implementation. Any port in a storm in the turbulent implementation scenario.

Article co-produced by Antonio Zafra Romero and Raquel Moreno Vicente


ARMAGH GAOL. The challenge of reusing old prisons

“New twists in old sites, fresh ingredients in a historical melting pot”
Tourism Development and Marketing Strategy and Action Plan till 2022

George Festival Pictures

This is an article produced after the celebration of a transnational meeting hosted by the city of Armagh in the framework of activities developed in the INT-HERIT Project. Public & private partnership, pilgrims, prisoners, paths…are some PPP words, situated at the core of a living lab in which participants at the meeting were invited to interact with local stakeholders. All of that surrounded by the atmosphere of the Georgian Festival, an annual event that celebrates the foundational sense of place, with the ubiquitous Archbishop Robinson as a witness.

Armagh, an microcosm of Ireland

At his arrival the visitor can feel a bit disoriented with the generous presence of monuments and sites – two Cathedrals, Palace, Library, Observatory, Court House, Gaol …- Besides, they are in some way diluted between roads that section this small city in many fragments. A city which contains much of the history of Northern Ireland.

The first thing that a traveller could aspire to find would be an unequivocal sign about his position and probably a pedestrian path to walk while enjoying a large number of prominent buildings, not only monuments, but also houses built in the Georgian era. An old map and a relevant guide – The buildings of Armagh. Ulster Architectural Heritage Society- can help visitors to satisfactory find their way in the city.

The urban challenge faced by the city of Armagh, recently grouped in a new administrative format –  Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council – is precisely maintaining the historical fabric built in the center, preserving and rescuing its identity and character, truly original. The city is trying to recover the compact character of the urban area, sewing the fragmented parts after the construction of various roads in the 1960s. Together with the private buildings whose conservation and recovery is being undertaken through a Master Plan, a specific space is attracting the attention of the city’s political and technical leaders. This is the old prison, closed since the year 1986, owned by the city and the object of a proposal for rehabilitation with a double use as a hotel and a residential area. This is the topic that focused the recent work visit from the partners of the INT-HERIT project.

In a deep sense, in Armagh one finds the weight of a centre of power, acting as developer of churches, houses, civil and social sites, prisons, all of them considered as drivers of the city and all structuring the territorial economy as it was in times past. That investment period moved the city to a central position, and even today the story and the history, the beauty of the place, the artistic and philosophical meaning, continue showing this capacity to  appeal the new generations. However, how can these sites be preserved, renovated and used? How can they negotiate and with whom the recovery of the lost centrality?

Armagh Gaol

Armagh Jain inside

The Gaol which is Grade B+ listed, was largely designed by two of Ireland’s most renowned architects, Francis Cooley and William Murray. The construction of the prison began in the 1780’s and it was the primary women’s prison in Northern Ireland until its closure. 
Armagh Gaol consisted of three prisons – one for women, one for debtors and one for felons. Executions were common, taking place in the Gaol square, but were later moved behind the prison walls. In the latter half of the 20th century, the Gaol accommodated high-profile political prisoners. It closed in 1986 and now the impressive site is on the Built Heritage at Risk list.

process aimed to ensure the safeguarding and the reuse of the prison was started around ten years ago. A cross-sector partnership was created and was very active from 2009 to 2011 when Armagh city  also collaborated with The Prince’s Regeneration Trust.  They held a community consultation event to present different ideas to key stakeholders and the local community. The attendees provided several suggestions that were incorporated into the plans. At the end of the process the partnership had completed a conservation management plan, an action plan for the project and started to work on a business plan to create a Heritage Centre at the site, according to the information provided by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust website.

Armagh Gaol

The redevelopment of the site by the private actor involved, the Osborne Group, proposed a mixed use development that would bring economic benefits to Armagh and the wider Borough – employment, training and increased visitor numbers and spending. Osborne Group has a proven track record in heritage regeneration schemes, including the rehabilitation of the Castle and the old Gaol in Oxford, this one transformed later into a luxury Hotel.

The developer’s proposal contains the following key features: 4 star hotel with  80 rooms; Spa and treatment rooms, restaurant, conference and banqueting with facilities for 250 people; Heritage Centre and attraction space; 22 residential apartments and 10,000 square feet retail space.
The estimated total cost of the project is circa £ 25m and the estimated private sector funding circa £ 11m, it being therefore necessary to explore and secure public investment options close to 14 million pounds.

Oxford Complex

Challenges in the implementation process

Such a complex project contains in itself elements that hinder its implementation and sometimes may even prevent it if there are not the necessary plans that help to address these difficulties in such large projects that require cooperation between actors, important investments and a long time for their execution. Among the risks found in the renovation project of the site, we can mention in a first approach:

  • The difficulties of ensuring a public, social and private partnership structure that shares common objectives, in equal conditions when carrying out negotiations and subsequent agreements.
  • The absence of technical teams in small municipalities with the necessary multidisciplinary skills and specially trained in the art of negotiation
  • The financial inability of small cities to address the financing of projects of this magnitude
  • The ever-present conflict between the priorities of preservation and the use of heritage sites
  • The difficulties of integrating the solutions with other needs, plans and related services: traffic, parking, social and private housing…
  • The adjustment to the times marked for the implementation
  • The lack of flexibility in the renewal plans of the sites subject to a single and exclusive intervention
  • The very dynamics of abandonment and almost ruin in which abandoned buildings fall
  • The complex constellation of existing risks
  • The irruption of many external and collateral effects with unforeseeable impacts such as the economic crisis, the administrative reorganisation that has affected the municipalities, Brexit, etc…

Meanwhile, the poor state of the site can be certified, and what is more serious, it can lead to the loss of centrality of the topic and the exhaustion of the actors who are interested in providing solutions.

At first glance it seems necessary to bring to the scene an emergency plan that includes a readjustment of the possible solutions in which flexible and alternative plans and phased measures can be considered. A proposal of actions in successive and interdependent phases developed under public leadership but where local actors – entrepreneurs and community – are committed parts in this re-launching of the old plans. A new updated scenario based on the external situations that have been experienced in recent years but that, even in a scenario of uncertainty, do not prevent being attractive to investors and committed to the Northern Irish public sector and therefore British.

Abandoned prisons, risks and opportunities in new political and social contexts

The project of renovation and redevelopment of the Armagh prison is not unique in a context where the closing of prisons that automatically demand their conservation and reuse is frequent.

Many of them share common challenges linked to the heritage element of buildings, their large dimensions and high investment costs, the need to involve mixed interests and uses or the general connection with the urban ecosystem and other cultural and social resources of the city, without however having a connection with the historical past and the identity of the site.

The way in which these challenges are being addressed shows how, in some cases, social, community and entrepreneurial development proposals are at the forefront of redefining plans and consequent uses, while in others privatization and exclusive transformation into luxury hotels comes to represent another model about how cities face politically the opportunity to reuse common heritage assets. This is a debate that is very present in contemporary urban development.

This type of antagonistic options is reflected again in a case that is being news in the media during these days, in relation to the reuse of an old prison, in the city of Jaén (Spain). The case presents some interesting conclusions to link with the readjustment that the proposal around Armagh prison seems to require. Indeed, in the city of Jaén, after its closure in 1991, the prison building will at least partially host the headquarters of a Museum dedicated to Iberian art. It is an old aspiration of some social groups and institutions of the city. The process has lasted for twenty years and has required the successive intervention of a different team of architects, based on an investment of 27 million euros exclusively public, with a partial opening -500 square meters for a temporary exhibition compared with the 11,152 square meters built – and without a clear management plan at least known to accommodate other possible uses and actors. This vision and its subsequent implementation seem to be in conflict with the privatization proposal that dominates the renovating scenario in Armagh. One case and another do not avoid the questions about sustainability and equity in the sharing of efforts and benefits in one or other proposal, the degree of commitment to the preservation of the real estate, the presence of a clear and public economic management plan or the public and social uses that awaits the site. Looking at both initiatives, we asked ourselves about the opportunity to discover a middle path as an open solution to the desired implementation of a defined strategy and management plan.

We are definitely facing a challenge to which the INT-HERIT network wants to offer its small contribution, in particular by bringing new ideas and suggestions that may gradually and sustainable help to bring answers to the different needs associated with the implementation of the renovation plans of these sites, once places of forced isolation that can now let light pass freely through its bars and windows.


Looking over the fence

Architectural heritage comes in all shapes and sizes! Ancient Greek theatres, roman sites, medieval castles, modernist street spaces and 19th century industrial sites: the INT-HERIT network represents a good cross-section of what architectural heritage has to offer. Regardless of the variety of architectural heritage they have to manage, all network partners do face the same challenges: how can small and medium sized cities use their heritage sites as a lever for socio-economic development?

The benefits of looking over the fence

Because of the intensive interaction within the INT-HERIT network, project partner Leiedal became aware of the benefits of looking over the fence: the exchange between partners enables Leiedal to gain practical experience in implementing a new governance model for Transfo, a historical and listed power plant in the municipality of Zwevegem.

There is, however, still a need to exchange experiences with (public) authorities managing heritage sites, similar to the Transfo site. Coalmines, ironworks and other power plants relate to Transfo in terms of scale, spatial structures, age and challenges. A structural exchange of ideas and experiences between the managing authorities of similar heritage sites will contribute to a better and more integrated result. It will lower the risk of making suboptimal decisions and will speed up the development process because we can avoid reinventing the proverbial wheel.

Setting up an informal network to facilitate exchange

With the support of the INT-HERIT project, Leiedal organizes inspiration visits to sites that are similar to Transfo. Participants are the stakeholders of the Transfo project. Ultimate goal is to set up an informal network that facilitates regular exchange of ideas, experiences, and best practices. Leiedal has identified a small number of similar sites which are at the same development level as Transfo, or which are one or more steps ahead. These sites are at a maximum distance of 150 km of Zwevegem, in order to avoid a lot of travel. The sites are Arenberg Creative Mine (France) and Le Pass, B-mine and C-mine (Belgium), all former coal mines.

First impressions

The first visits, to Arenberg Creative Mine and Le Pass, were very enriching for the Transfo stakeholders. Being former coal mines, both sites share the same history. However, the development path of each site has been very different, since their respective closures (Le Pass in 1960, Arenberg in 1989).

It is striking that each site has a niche-based approach. Arenberg Creative Mine for instance focuses on audiovisual services. The site houses film studios, a movie theatre, post-production and editing rooms, business spaces for audiovisual service providers and a center of excellence in image and digital media. Le Pass focuses on education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Nevertheless, the three sites do also share similar offerings because of their spatial characteristics: the buildings for example are perfectly suited for MICE-activities (meetings, incentives, congresses and events).

All functions, activities and facilities contribute to a unique ecosystem. This ecosystem should be well balanced and multifaceted. When there is too much emphasis on one single function or activity, the ecosystem becomes unbalanced. A niche-based approach carries the risk of pushing away other functions.

Typical for sites like Arenberg, Le Pass and Transfo is that they are fairly isolated. Not that these sites always lie in the middle of nowhere, but they are generally secluded enclaves within the surrounding area. This means that most visitors come with a purpose, and are not just passers-by. The challenge here is to get people across the threshold, so to speak. The liveliness of these places is therefore strongly correlated with (the quality of) the functions that they offer. Both Le Pass and Arenberg have introduced different layers of functions, generating different flows of visitors. Key is to have a basic layer generating a basic level of liveliness, like business units (Arenberg, Le Pass, Transfo), housing (Transfo) or educational facilities (Arenberg). Other functions result in welcome peaks in the number of visitors: a museum (Arenberg), exhibitions (Le Pass) or adventurous sports (Transfo), for instance, bring life in the weekends and during holidays. A restaurant (Arenberg, Le Pass), a bar, event locations and sporting facilities (Transfo, Le Pass, Arenberg) bring life around midday, in the evening and in the weekend. Seasonal festivals, a summer bar or occasional public events bring bigger crowds on specific moments.

It is, however, essential to have also the local community embracing the site. Some basic interventions can help to intertwine the daily life of the local community with the heritage site. Simple things like a good bicycle path or walking trail through the site (Le Pass, Transfo), a park to walk the dog or a small playground (Le Pass, Transfo) help to break the gated character of these sites.

The visits learn that it remains very difficult to have a self-supporting development of these large heritage sites. All sites demonstrate the need of public funding, in terms of investment as well as in terms of operations. Public-private partnerships reduce the financial pressure, but remain insufficient to have a break-even result. The public authorities managing these large heritage sites have to deal with the tension between financial and social interests. Should public authorities aspire a break-even result, considering the benefits to society? The better question to be asked is “What value do we get for our money?”.

Sites like Arenberg and Le Pass also show the importance of the story behind the place. Arenberg, for instance, was home to the shooting of the movie “Germinal”, a 1993 French epic film based on the novel by Émile Zola about a coalminers’ strike in northern France in the 1860s. The former film sets tell the story of Arenberg and its importance for the communities around the site. In Le Pass, you would find an exhibition about the history and the significance of the site. Key is to incorporate this history in the new story for the site.

The visits learns that conservation through development takes time. We are talking about 20 years or more. Moreover, the work is never finished: there is no ‘final result’. It is, however, important to gain momentum. These are moments of acceleration in the redevelopment process, which you should grasp to get the most out of them. Like a surfer catching the good wave.

Leiedal is planning the next visits, being C-mine and B-mine, both coal mines in the east of Belgium and demonstrating the range of possibilities and opportunities large industrial heritage sites can offer.

Article by Stijn Vannieuwenborg 



Sigulda is for the Autumn. This is what accredited solvency experts such as The Guardian, Thelegraph or National Geographic say when recommending holiday destinations. Also now, and thanks to their participation in the Transnational Seminar held in the last days of September in this Latvian city within the framework of the INT-HERIT Project, a few dozen people can support this claim.

It is easy to get to Sigulda from Riga, separated by 50 kms and communicated permanently by train. Moreover, the Latvian capital enjoys excellent connections with the main European capitals.

Fresh off the train, the traveler discovers the placid and pristine image that Sigulda transmits in these first days of Autumn. Culture waits in the first corner, in an art gallery – Siguldas Tornis Makblas – that ascends towards the sky. Clean air, smooth and orderly urbanism, green parks everywhere immediately invite you to walk the city. On the way, one discovers numerous young mothers strolling with their babies while some grandmothers offer flowers in their makeshift stalls. Slowly the first restaurants and hotels appear, announcing the attractive and coquettish offer of the city. Signs do not disappoint the visitor, the cultural and historical tone of the place continues in the form of beautiful houses, churches, water channels in a calm picture that leads to an immense forest outlined on the horizon. It is the scenario of the Gauja National Park, one of if gates being the city of Sigulda that attracts every year around 100,000 visitors.

The urban planning of Sigulda, as presented at the INT-HERIT meeting by Girts Runis, pays special attention to the policy of public spaces and how these are shaped by their relationship with the population. The different layers of urban functions, together with the different layers of history, model this soft natural character that distinguishes the urbanism of Sigulda.

The epicenter of the tourism strategy that the city is implementing in recent years revolves around the Sigulda Castle Complex, a couple of castles with numerous annex buildings, which occupies an extensive plot at the heart of this garden city. A world of fortresses that is completed with others very close, Turaida and Krimulda standing out among them, of undoubted interest.

Nature, forests, clean air allow to articulate an irresistible offer of leisure, adventure, culture, sports and health activities. It is no wonder that Sigulda’s proposal to the visitor is explained in terms of surprise, fascination and emotions. In this way, a city traditionally exporting timber, has become a city that emits tons of happiness into the atmosphere.


Two of the presentations (III) explain the details of the strategy that has led the city to invest some twenty million euros – often with the support of ERDF funds – in the adaptation of this cultural complex. The creative economy, craft workshops, history, nature and cultural tourism are the ingredients with which this emotional cocktail is made.

The historical interpretation that the city manages extends from the Devonian period when the primeval forest began to develop to the recent Soviet period. A vast physical, spatial and human panorama where to delve into traces and perceptions, as well as decide which elements and values, are the object of conservation, protection and value.

Sigulda Castle complex, and its surroundings, has been the scene of successive wars with Poles, Russians, Swedes … and in practice has remained for most of its history closed to the daily life of the neighbours. In the most recent history the site belonged to rich families, associations of writers and finally in our days it has become a public space open to the enjoyment of citizens and visitors, as well as an object of attraction for entrepreneurs.

Along with the restoration of two castles, already in its final phase, several buildings have been renovated to house different workshops – jewelery, leather, recycled paper, ceramics … -, stands selling souvenirs or coffee , co-working spaces or residences for the temporary accommodation of artists have been opened . The participants in this INT-HERIT seminar had the opportunity to experience their craft skills in the different workshops, just as visitors who arrive at this complex can do.

Exhibitions and outdoor installations complement a cultural offer in which the International Design Summer School “Man & Design” (MAD) stands out, an interdisciplinary meeting space that brings together a creative community formed by designers, artists, craftsmen and scientists. These days the result of the work carried out in the last edition, under the name of BIOMIMICRY, could be seen. It was focused on the fertile exchange of ideas between nature, scientists and designers, materialized on this occasion around different processes related to food.

A trip to the interior of the Gauja National Park allows you to enter at any time beautiful natural enclaves where the sound of water and the colors of autumn surround old castles, caves or open-air museums. A place to get lost …


As usual during the transnational seminars of the INT-HERIT Project, a series of local issues related to heritage management are subject to the critical eye of the participants in the meeting. Three issues have been reviewed during the session held in Sigulda, around many other challenges facing the municipality:

1) The old military Bunker:

  • How to use the bunker (166 m2) along the Sigulda Castle complex strategy?
  • What would be the story telling of this military object? Should there be one?
  • How does it correspond to the historic bobsleigh route or nature conservation agency that are located nearby?

2) People’s Park

  • To golf or not to golf?
  • How to attract investments and keep the green area not increasing city’s expenditures?
  • Would this investment fit with Sigulda Castle complex strategy?

3) The Festival

  • What would be the target audience of the Festival?
  • Which would be the best timing for the Festival?
  • How does the Festival correspond to Sigulda Castle complex strategy?

A report with the comments provided by the participants during this critical review session will soon be published. A video will also be released shortly with images and content related to the celebration of this transnational meeting. Meanwhile, Sigulda will continue, in the framework of INT-HERIT, producing interesting results in the form of resources linked to the implementation of its cultural strategy around the castle complex. And so the autumn continues and the thrill remains ready to be experienced, in Sigulda.


The Echo of DO-DO-NA

The region of Molossia limited to the west with the Ionian Sea, to the south with Acarnania and Aetolia, to the southeast with Thessaly, to the east with Macedonia, to the northeast with Paeonia and to the north with the vast country of Illyria. Molossia was a mountainous country dominated by the Pindo range and the Acroceraunios mountains. Dodona, its capital, was located approximately in the center of this territory and it was famous for its oracle. Around the city of Dodona lived the Molossian factions of the Antitanes and other Epirote tribes about 2,500 years ago.

Everything in Greece starts with a myth. This is what the Greeks themselves confirm and this is how this journey and its story begin. The destiny, a sacred place, Dodona, whose sound resonates in time, in the form of music, philosophy, theater, prophecy …

We do not know how many pilgrims travelled to the Sanctuary of Dodona in the crucial years when the region of Epirus lived its most renowned days. Perhaps from a temporary perspective its participation in history is seen as a Pyrrhic victory, but the evidence is that more than twenty centuries later its name still evokes distinction and character.

The old Dodona was transformed into Dodoni and is now an archaeological site that attracts more than 50,000 visitors each year. Only the foundations of the public and the religious buildings remain. However, the impressive size of the old Greek theater, built to host 17,000 people, stands erect, which shows the cultural, political and of course religious importance that the site must have had. The enclave has not lost an ounce of its majestic beauty and arrogant wrapping, a breathtaking valley surrounded by mountains, forests, villages and winding paths, witnesses to the old vestiges from the past, as different sources testify.

It is interesting to see how the evocation of Do-do-na impacts on other products and services that are presented as the contemporary identity of Epirus, under the rubric of the brand ‘Dodoni’. Nevertheless, the town itself points to a series of problems that include the depopulation of the area and the lack of infrastructures or services. It is hard to understand how the municipality is not included in the management and promotion of the archaeological site, which is in the hands of the Greek national government and the region of Epirus. Good opportunities to improve the positioning of the territory, such as the excellent exhibition dedicated in 2016 to the Oracle of Dodona in the Acropolis Museum in Athens, obviated this reality and frustrated a more than worthy cooperation between the public actors involved. Something similar happens when you visit the archaeological site and there is no tourist information regarding the tourist services located in the surrounding area.

UNESCO itself has recognised (see document “Best practices in World Heritage: People and Communities”, 2015) the need to ensure participation of the local administrations in the management of heritage sites in order to make sure there is a direct benefit for their local communities.

It is obvious that the idea of ”local participation” should be critically analyzed taking into consideration that economic rights are deemed to be part of human rights, meaning that local communities directly related to the heritage sites should always be at the center of the decision making process and not simply a formal presence in the decision-making bodies.

A municipal management strategy

What strategy can Dodoni follow for the management of the local heritage in this context? Their participation in the INT-HERIT project is an opportunity to further the promotion of cultural resources linked to local economic development, an objective that is not easy considering their limited experience in the implementation of this type of plans. However, it is the desire to overcome this starting point that justifies the articulation of a Local Group around INT-HERIT and engages a large delegation of the European project partners to participate in a Transnational meeting that has taken place from the 6th to the 9th of November 2018.

The agenda of the meeting included the essential visit to the site of Dodona, along with other villages within the same municipality such as Kopani, where the Cultural Association organised a party in which music, gastronomy and the distillation of tsipouro encouraged a truly festive evening under the leadership of Kostas Pappás, vice president of the Local Cultural Association, and Fotiní Georgiádi as a master of ceremonies. Fotiní is a native of Kopani and divides her life between this small mountain town and the urban vanguard represented by the North American city of Seatle. A trip by bus led the group to another two valuable and interesting resources from the territory, the Popular Museum of Perdika being one of them, where the President of the Local Cultural Association, Kostas Ziakas, guided us in a visit to a set of outdoors located cottages that recreate the life of the rural community and to the main building where we could see a truly attractive and well-cared for ethnographic collection. The second visit, in Sklivani, was also conducted by the President of the Local Association, in this case Kostas Maggioros, who guided the visitors to the religious treasures (texts, icons, lamps, clothing …) kept in the Ecclesiastical Museum.

Illustrated by the presentations made by the different guests to the event – Vassiliki Brachou, Paraskevi Yiouni, Polina Sygkouna and Maria Mizithra – , the participants formed a critical analysis that they tried to share with the hosts through a process where the aforementioned problems and challenges were addressed together with the possible alternatives that might contribute to modify the described trend. Three proposals were presented by the municipality’s team to trigger this prospective analysis.

  1. The creation of a municipal strategy brand aimed at promoting Dodoni as a tourist destination.
  2. The continuity and enrichment of the programme for the Cultural Festival organised the last two years by the municipality in the archaeological site and the activation of a volunteering programme associated with it.
  3. The reinterpretation of activities (economic, cultural, etc.) which can take place in the surrounding area of the archaeological site, in particular in the protected zone, in accordance with state-level legislation.

A specific report will be produced with a summary of the suggestions and the discussion generated around these three issues, but according to the conversations held, we can advance that the institutional cooperation, the participation of the social and private actors, the territorial approach and the echo of the enclave itself and its history, should be at the centre of the vision and contents of any strategy to be implemented.

The Echo of the future

It is said that in Africa the death of an old man is a library on fire. I could remember this phrase surrounded by some books in the old school of Dodoni, now reconverted into a multi-purpose centre for cultural activities where the transnational seminar that inspires these reflections took place. Although I was happy to see the public buildings transformed and in use, instead of rubble and ruin, I could not help feeling that with the closure of each school in so many rural areas of Europe, the death of these rural villages is announced. Only the lazy cats and the birds that flitted through the trees were witnesses to the sound of the church bells on that autumnal morning in Dodoni.

But that bucolic image is not the only one that will help to mark the future of Dodoni. Together with the beauty of this image, the picture of determined entrepreneurs is fixed in this story, like Katerina, who manages the cozy Mirtali Art Hotel in the village of Manteio, accessible on foot from the Dodoni archaeological site, where the authenticity of the local culture together with a deep and respectful vision towards the environment and life itself can be felt. Or like Vassilis, trained as a teacher but forced into unemployment and now turned into an oregano producer and councillor for culture in the municipality. Also all those anonymous people that make up the cluster of cultural associations that preserve heritage and keep it alive and rich, such as the magnificent landscape where one day culture, religion, politics and economy merged to create this enclave whose resonance reaches our days.

But as we said, in Dodoni, in Greece, the echo is more than a sound phenomenon that can be recognized around a classical theater or a well-adapted natural environment. Here the ‘Echo‘ is again myth, and once again the myth comes to our aid, to reflect past wisdom in order to build the future, to arrange the pieces around which to articulate a territorial strategy, the recreated odyssey of these heirs to Molossia.


Revisited Sites

On the occasion of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, Europa Nostra and its President Maestro Plácido Domingo invited all citizens in Europe and beyond to contribute to the #Ode2Joy Challenge. The best entries in the Ode2Joy Challenge will be included in a special video of the project which will be shown on 22 June during the European Heritage Awards Ceremony at the Berlin Congress Centre.

From the INT-HERIT Project, we would like to follow up this excellent idea, encouraging creative local people from our cities to produce any kind of artistic expressions immersed in their favorite heritage sites, record them on video and share them with us, ready to be released and shared trough our social media.

It could be a way to encourage the reinterpretation of our sites, promoting visits to them through multiple visions, as many as visitors or users may the cultural sites of our cities have. A participatory and co-creative approach to make the storytelling of our sites, as a first step for a more participatory management.

We started it in Baena, sharing a video recorded in the Municipal Historical Museum. A group of young people of the city have come together to collect a unique, poetic and vital moment, around a song and the images captured from the site, the artist, the echoes of a contemporary voice that speaks to the ancient cold of the earth in winter, next to the monumental Roman sculptures that also come from old stone…

The artists responsible for this video that we present here, are:

Composer, violin, voice and piano: Ángela Varo Moreno
Lyrics: Laurenn Berthélem Malpica
Film: Luis Muñoz CubilloProducer: Alfredo García PicazoEnglish
Translation: Carmen Rodríguez García

The Municipal Historical Museum of Baena is located at the heart of the city, in a building, the House of Tercia, catalogued by its historical and monumental character and contains in its three floors important collections connected with different stages of local history, highlighting the numerous findings from the archaeological site of Torreparedones.

Link of interest: Europa Nostra 


The URBACT Local Groups meaning during implementation stage

Implementation Networks (IN) are a new initiative within the URBACT Program, joining European cities involved in the implementation phase of their local urban plans. The particular features existing in this step predetermine the conditions around all dimensions included in their performance. One important topic in this process is how an efficient participatory approach should be promoted, according the URBACT method recommendation.

The URBACT Program has delivered a set of guidelines to facilitate the achievement of challenges in which the cities are facing. One of these is named “Maintaining involvement of local stakeholders and organizing decision-making for implementation”. Some headlines can be extracted from this document. The first one is related to the distinction between two specific objectives, aimed at reaching an effective involvement of local stakeholders and to organize a suitable decision-making procedure during the implementation.

Taking into account that a stakeholder is a broad term, a more detailed distinction should be developed, separating actors according to their different interests or roles (political /project officers, community, citizens, ONGs, business representatives…). A clear separation between stakeholders and delivery partners is consequentially recommended.

Governance for delivery is the second aim to be achieved, creating an adequate structure, addressing aspects such as direction, tracking progress, managing risks, corrective actions, management, and communication…, in the frame of a Results Framework context.

Reviewing the ULGs performance in the INT-HERIT network

Aware of the importance of the participatory approach in the URBACT Program, the INT-HERIT network of cities has promoted an analysis session about how the launching and implementing of those is going. We would like to share some reflections expressed during this session.

On the one hand it is interesting to highlight the different role and characteristics that local groups can play in the different types of existing networks within the framework of the URBACT Program. So while in the Action Planning Network a creative and exploratory role could be underlined in order to create realistic and balanced plans, in the Transfer Network an expansive but flexible and innovative character would be the most useful for an active group in the transfer proposal that best suits each city, while the role of the local group in the Implementation Network would be closer to a movement of attentive concentration aimed at focusing attention on the task of monitoring and control of effective implementation of the plans.

The reflection shared by the partners of INT-HERIT emphasizes among the capacities to promote in the bosom of these local groups involved in implementation networks, the skills in the use of technical tools, skills of analysis and decision making, effective management of adjustments in relation to the initially planned actions …

The recommended profiles in terms of the size and composition of the groups suggest small core groups from different sectors, while the presence of those responsible for the conservation and restoration of heritage is highlighted along with those responsible for economic and social revitalization and entrepreneurs.

Partners found out that in an implementation Network setting up and running the ULG requires a different approach regarding the APN’s. There are multiple recommendations during this first year of networking. Here are some of them:

Implementation Network ULG’s vs Action Plan Network ULG’s

Setting Up:
– put the focus on how it is implemented more than on what is done regarding the management of plans
– short but influential group focused in implementation not strategy
– more decision makers than planners in the group
– flexibility to change the group according to implementation
– bring investors and other kind of funding organisations to the discussion in a yearly stage of the project
– give room to unexpected contributions; invite beyond the
”usual suspects”
– focus in concrete problems; invite specific stakeholders for a meeting to discuss a specific topic of the implementation phase
– conduct frequent meetings of a technical nature with small groups,
extending the size of the group at specific times
– use engagement techniques to keep the meetings productive
– organise guided tours with LG to the area under discussion at Int-Herit
– task forces to manage a big group – useful to speed up some decisions
– plan visits to other good examples together with your LG
Capture Knowledge:
– develop a continuous feedback activity capturing the contributions of
the participants; put in practice a local stakeholders feed-back system
– Communicating decisions to your LG is not the same of engaging the LG in building decisions
– Use the ULG to think the city on a permanent basis not only during
project duration
– experiment with an adequate governance model for the implementation phase, connecting the role of the local group with decision-making by the competent bodies of the municipality

The still experimental steps of this type of groups that are acting in this network of nine small European cities explain the irregular number of meetings held over a year, varying between two and ten, depending on the nature and function of the same, although if it shows a more constant number of participants, around fifteen.

INT-HERIT hopes to be, together with the other active implementation networks within the framework of the URBACT Program, a useful field for testing the adaptation of a participatory proposal in this specific moment of urban sustainable strategies, which is implementation.

This article has been co-written by
Antonio Zafra; Lead partner coordinator and
Pedro Soutinho; Lead Expert Int-Herit Network.


Peer Review: An useful learning tool during the implementation of activities in the INT-HERIT cities.

Peer Review is a helpful and frequently used methodology in the URBACT Programme as well as within the frame of the INT-HERIT Project.

Peer Review session

During the transnational meetings, peer reviews are organised to review the site visits. After the meeting, outputs and conclusions are presented in a bench-marking format in order to facilitate a cooperative learning process among the cities.
A good preparation is critical to a successful peer review. Usually the host city prepares a dossier presenting the most important features of the site and also proposes some questions that later the expert responsible to moderate the peer review session synthesises and concretes in some specific themes. Both the reviewer cities and the cities that are subject of the review are invited to do some home work prior to the meeting.

It is highly recommended that cities fully participate, test and carry out their role, either as “city under review” or as “reviewer city”, as well as that the session organisers carefully frame the issues and relevant questions in order to facilitate the activity and the collection of results. Some members of the local group are invited to participate actively in the peer review sessions taking place in the context of the INT-HERIT Project.

At the end of each session the different groups create their comments, that are conveniently recorded, and after their analysis by the expert responsible for the activity, they nourish a final report that is shared with all the participants and becomes a very valuable instrument for the organising city, thus having an external expert vision that can be incorporated into the implementation of its strategy.

During the transnational meeting held last February in the Kortrijk Region, hosted by the Intercomunale Leiedal, two peer review sessions were organized.

The first of them around TRANSFO, an old thermal power plant now converted to new functionalities of cultural, labour, sports or residential type. After 15 years of investment and hard work of the municipality of Zwevegem, Leiedal, the Province of West-Flanders and the Flemish Government, the Transfo site gains momentum: several initiatives and projects are in full development. The main challenge is to streamline and to integrate the growing number of initiatives and dynamics, without losing opportunities and to improve integration and final results. Two big issues were defined to focus the critical analysis by peers, coordinated by the project experts and the Intercommunale Leiedal staff: 1) How to implement an agile, collaborative (vertically and horizontally) integrated and sustainable governance framework for the site, and 2) How to keep (hi)story of the site alive, aligned and relevant. A peer review report has been produced by the Ad Hoc Expert of the project, Miguel Sousa.

The second has been focused on a more modest but equally attractive site in order to promote the sustainable management of cultural heritage. It is the case of the Spiere Pool. In 1935, the state built a factory between Spierebeek and Schelde, with the objective of testing water purification methods. On 18 May 1937, King Leopold III came to visit the water-treatment plant. The plans did not go through because it was too costly and caused too much pollution. The building was neglected and eventually transformed into a swimming pool. The Spiere swimming pool was the first swimming pool in Belgium and was in use until 1955. Meanwhile, the former swimming pool has been granted the status of a protected monument and will be restored for new purposes.

Attendants to the transnational meeting were invited to participate in a peer review session about the challenge of giving a new meaning and integrated programme to the Spiere outdoor swimming pool. A peer review report has been produced by the Ad Hoc Expert of the project. The report analyzes the potential of the site for different cultural, tourist and social uses and fits the results in the framework of some of the functions that the INT-HERIT project links with the management of cultural heritage, such as sustainability, the intrinsic values of the site , the role of the community or the potential for socioeconomic development.

This video with interesting images of both sites can complement the reading of the reports.


Cities’ Challenges in Cultural Heritage Management

A Historic Urban Landscape or HUL is an urban area understood  as  the  result  of  a  historic  layering  of  cultural  and  natural  values  and  attributes,  extending  beyond  the  notion  of  “historic  centre”  or  “ensemble”  to  include  the  broader  urban   context  and  its  geographical  setting’. It  builds  upon  the  assumption  that,  when  an  urban settlement is properly managed, initiatives, opportunities, and development can contribute to both quality of life and conservation of cultural heritage, while ensuring a social diversity and justness. (in UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape).

This concept laid down by UNESCO could be in any strategic plans of the cities participating in the INT-HERIT Implementation Network. Until recently, traditional urban conservation practices focused primarily, or sometimes exclusively, on the architectural monuments of the city. Nowadays, however, there is a broad recognition that a more inclusive and comprehensive approach is needed to identify and understand the urban values, which are at the heart of the identity and character of the city. In fact, cities participating in the INT-HERIT Implementation Network are already aware of the limitations of traditional policies towards cultural heritage whose main focus was on the rehabilitation of buildings while their use and valorisation was left to the final pages of the project dossier leading to a low impact of these projects in the city quality of life. Today every one acknowledges that this is not enough to really make noticeable changes in the city.  Conservation of cultural heritage is therefore regarded as an economic opportunity to foster social and economic development. This is particularly true in small to medium-size cities where limitation of resources (both financial and human) could hamper the necessary actions but these are the cities where the impact could be greater, i.e., cultural heritage could become a game changer for the city, able to transform the city. It is therefore important to support these cities in building proper tools to address conservation challenges.

After completing 6 months of phase II of the INT-HERIT project, having the chance to interconnect cities’s implementation processes in action, the main challenges faced by the cities are becoming clear:

  • How to promote engagement and mobilisation of local stakeholders and citizens?
  • How to develop and use innovative methods for culture management?
  • How to measure, monitor and evaluate impacts and changes in the city?

So, let’s take a quick tour across the 9 cities participating in INT-HERIT who, despite having different resources and focus, share a lot of common features and hence many common problems and challenges.

The city of Baena (Lead Partner) seats between olive fields (an important economic asset of the region) half way between Cordoba and Granada in Southern Spain. The city is focused on the implementation of a strategic plan for the medieval castle that was recently rehabilitated and for the important ibero-roman settlement of Torreparedones (video). Both projects opened new opportunities for the city but despite major investments in the rehabilitation of both sites in the last years it is still difficult to assess any measurable impacts in the city. This is partially because these projects need time to mature, from the renovation of sites, i.e. put the “hardware” operational to its use and valorisation, i.e., the layer above or  “software” which requires a different approach to implementation where an integrated vision and citizens’ engagement is mandatory. The challenge of the city is therefore to find the right management model in order to fully explore the real potential of valorisation of these cultural heritage sites. 

A similar situation can be found in the city of Dodoni in Greece, with its impressive and well-preserved theatre and sanctuary from Ancient Greece, one of the oldest oracles of antiquity (video) with enough potential alone to become a major touristic spot and an important driver for the local economy. With this in mind, the city council set up a developing project called “Cultural itineraries focusing on the ancient theatres of Epirus” to support its investments in infra-structures and promotion of the site. The main goal is to improve visitor experience and support business creation around tourism-related activities in the municipality but with scarce resources and lack of competences to deal with the private sector, the city is looking for straightforward methods to improve implementation of projects, namely improving its communication with citizens, making them aware of the opportunities  presented by the site, and developing competences in negotiating with private business partners in order to establish the right Public Private Partnerships to implement their vision for Dodoni.

Sigulda city in Latvia is also using its heritage sites to promote entrepreneurship and job creation while exploring its touristic potential. With their City Castle Complex Project (video) the city was able to raise funds to initiate the rehabilitation of the castle and surrounding buildings and is now trying to build a “layer” of animation activities and small businesses able to turn the site into a gathering place for locals and visitors for cultural, educational, creative and recreational purposes. Restored buildings will provide renting spaces at low rates for entrepreneurs while a new marketing campaign will hopefully bring more visitors. The city is therefore looking for new tools to efficiently reach these specific target groups and a management model that assures a balance between the private interest to participate and the public administration interest to ensure that the process altogether is economically viable.

The city of Alba Iulia, located at the heart of Transylvania, was once an important outpost of the Roman Empire and became the settlement of the Legio XIII Gemina in what is today the «Citadel» of the city (video). This fortified site has an array of relevant heritage buildings mostly connected with its previous military function. The city has made great efforts to rehabilitate several buildings in the site taking advantage of EU funds and the place becomes each year more lively and attracts more visitors, which is a good indicator regarding SROI. However, a coherent body of functions for buildings and their contribution so the overall vision is partially unknown or undefined.

This also happens in the city of Armagh, the so-called religious capital of Northern Ireland (video) which is initiating a vast rehabilitation project to regenerate key heritage buildings in the city to create an attractive centre both for visitors and local business. The city built a Masterplan to regenerate the city but to be successful, the city needs to clearly identify its strategic investment opportunities and articulate how and when these can be implemented in a coordinated fashion. The lack of enough accommodation and traffic congestion along the narrow City Centre streets are among the problems that need to be addressed in order to pursuit their vision of turning this historic city in a prime touristic destination in the UK. On the other side, citizens are still not fully involved in the process and the city faces difficulties in order to tune public ownership of heritage with their new functions under legal ownership of future private end-users.

Then there is the case of the city of Cahors in Southern France (video) and Mantova in Italy (video), the typical city-museum where the ensemble of ancient buildings forms a coherent urban body full of character. Both cities undertook vast renovation programmes in the last years to cope with a long list of heritage buildings desperately needing repair (an ongoing process) but need to complement these efforts with a clear development strategy for the renovated areas or buildings. Current projects are therefore looking for a proper integration of citizens in the process, promoting business creation in the ancient city centre and using conservation to attract new inhabitants by creating a life-style concept for the city capable of combining conservation, quality of life and social development.

Other cities are focused on their industrial heritage such as the City of Espinho in Portugal (video) and the Intercommunale Leiedal in Flanders (video), using conservation as a development tool by giving new uses to old industrial buildings, making them available to citizens and visitors fruition while building a strong case on their cultural and natural values. Both projects require a lot of investment due to the number, size and state of abandonment of these buildings, making PPP’s a crucial challenge. Both cities are looking for new tools and competences to deal with private investors and need to put in place simple but effective systems to measure the impacts of those investments to assure the sustainability of the envisaged actions.

This quick overview of city plans and challenges provides a clear direction for our implementation network and signposts the goals that we want to achieve at the end of the project. The project team is committed to work together on these challenges to build a knowledge base on how to improve the implementation of cultural heritage projects, addressing practical problems by learning and exchanging ideas with each other in order to maximize the potential impact of the projects in the quality of life of citizens. It will explore the multiple dimensions of urban policy (Policy, Development, Measure, Value and Engagement) to achieve a wider and more substantial impact while promoting the sustainability of it all.  They will act as driving vectors to fully exploit not only the direct output of the implemented actions but also to exploit the many spill overs that usually emerge from implementing these projects but are often neglected or ignored due to lack of monitoring and evaluation, such as potential changes in the local social landscape of the cities.

Pedro Soutinho
Porto, 22/1/2017


An innovative approach to cultural heritage management

When thinking of economic development in small-medium size cities, cultural heritage always plays an important role in any city strategy, particularly in the historical towns where the valorisation of cultural heritage remains one of the best tools to promote social and economic development. However several factors such as lack of funding, lack of management expertise, are preventing these cities to fully exploit its potential, limiting the capacity to valorise these important assets.

The INT-HERIT implementation network will build a framework for innovative heritage management where partner cities will exchange knowledge and build a participatory process around their strategies/plans. They will also monitor and benchmark their implementation through the creation of adequate monitoring metrics.  The network will provide advances in the promotion of a more sustainable policy regarding cultural heritage, amplifying its social and economic impacts in the city and their region. The main goal is to improve implementation of these strategies/plans by taking cultural heritage projects out of a closed box. From connections with the outside world that are foreseen but not fully exploited to a new approach where projects are built using a multi-connected box. In this case several relations with the outside world are analysed, fully exploited and measured, namely on such factors as social transformation, tourism, entrepreneurship, creative industries, etc.

An integrated approach is mandatory

The INT-HERIT network is composed by 7 small to medium-size cities – Baena as leader (ES), Alba Julia (RO), Sigulda (LE), Mantova (IT), Espinho (PT), Intercommunale Leiedal (BE) and Dodoni (GR) – all wanting to improve their strategies towards cultural heritage management. Cultural heritage processes involve so many stakeholders that many times it becomes impossible to address all of them. Several governmental agencies and other related organizations play crucial roles in these processes, turning horizontal and vertical integration a key challenge of the network. Cultural heritage management is often under a very strict legal framework requiring a strong interaction between local authorities and regional/national authorities to move projects forward. Finally, territorial integration is also mandatory, particularly when addressing tourism development as it usually falls under a regional or trans-regional strategy.

The important role of Public Private Partnerships (PPP)

Financial Innovation is a crucial tool in the scope of cultural heritage management. It is widely used today in all EU countries, however new and innovative ways of making PPP arrangements namely through active participation of citizens, will provide new solutions for the sustainability of cultural heritage. PPP will play a key role in our strategy for cultural heritage management. They impact greatly on the capacity of raising financial support and to maximize the social economic impact in the city, namely in the promotion of new business around the sector and ultimately in job creation. INT-HERIT cities will promote the adoption of this type of financial innovation on their territories, learning from others’ experiences to support new long-term agreements.

The Participatory Process and Monitoring

Another key element of the project is raising the awareness among actors to new strategies for cultural heritage management. More specifically, how an integrated approach can maximize their results in two ways. The first regards the rehabilitation and maintenance of cultural assets. The second concerns the involvement of relevant stakeholders, from business to citizens, in order to produce an enduring impact in the social and economic landscape of the city. This is particularly important in small and medium- sized European cities like those forming the INT-HERIT network, in which cultural heritage projects usually have a greater impact as opposed to big cities. This will also favour monitoring metrics since it will make it easier to measure impact of the operational action-plans. Each city has its own different actions but all partners want to take advantage of the INT-HERIT Implementation Network to “inject” a participative and integrative approach to their local actions. Their final aim is to provide a clear path from strategy to the operational action-plan in cultural heritage management.

The management of heritage as a challenge

Jesús Rojano, is the Mayor of Baena, the city that leads INT-HERITcities network. He emphasizes the specificity of small and medium-sized cities in the European context. He also highlights the potential of cultural heritage as a lever for the promotion of sustainable and integrated development. The creation of the network of cities has taken into account the historical and thematic diversity of the cultural resources of each one of them, the different degrees of experience in conservation policies and the value of heritage, the presence of plans and strategies, and the connection with integrated urban development, among other aspects. Based on this complementarity, the network proposes a common project based on the fact of sharing a challenge. This is achieving a greater professionalization of resourcemanagement, monitoring of the implementation of strategies and the impelemntation of a participatory method
The INT-HERIT team in Baena is composed of Raquel Moreno and Antonio Zafra. They outline the need that the cities of the network show their value as attractive places to capture the attention of investors, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders connected with the territorial and integrated development in their respective areas. It means municipalities work in an efficient and innovative way in the management of cultural local resources. At the same time they are able to convince other local and external actors to participate in the implementation process of their local plans and strategies. A high flexibility must be exhibited, aimed to foster the public, private and social partnership in the management of local cultural resources, as well as attract new funding instruments, including the commitment with innovative alternatives through a clear policy of public procurement.

Elaborated by:
Pedro Soutinho (LE)
Antonio Zafra and Raquel Moreno (LP)