Programme Launch of European Year of Cultural Heritage

The European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 is a European initiative, designed to put a spotlight on Europe’s wealth of cultural heritage, and to involve all citizens in events that promote a sense of belonging to a shared European space.

Irish people have a stronger sense of pride in their local heritage sites, and are more likely to engage in a traditional activity – such as playing music or dancing – compared with EU counterparts.

That’s according to a Eurobarometer survey, commissioned by the European Commission, which compares the attitudes of Europeans to cultural heritage. Findings of the survey were shared today (29.01.18) at the launch of Ireland’s programme for the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.

The Heritage Council – the statutory body charged with promoting, educating and encouraging enjoyment in Ireland’s national heritage – is coordinating the European Year of Cultural Heritage in Ireland. In this role, it is working with cultural institutions, heritage organisations, local councils, community groups and individuals to implement a year-long programme of heritage-related public events and activities.

According to the EU survey, Irish people are more likely than other Europeans to understand the positive impact that living close to places related to heritage can have on the quality of their life. And while Ireland has a stronger sense of its distinctive local heritage and traditions, Irish people are slightly less likely to attend classical music events or to visit an art gallery or museum.

Launching the programme, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, TD said that the findings of the European barometer survey chimed with the work of her Department and of Creative Ireland and the Heritage Council in nurturing Ireland’s great appreciation of our cultural heritage. “It is heartening to see that Irish people know that engaging in heritage – by walking in a forest or by visiting a monument and taking the time to reflect – can have a positive impact on us. Cultural heritage is more than just documenting the past, it’s nourishment for wellbeing and stimulation for the mind.”

Minister Madigan said the aim of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 is threefold: “Firstly, it encourages the sharing and appreciation of Europe’s cultural heritage. Secondly, it seeks to raise awareness of our common history and values. Last but certainly not least, it is geared towards involving all citizens in events that help to promote a sense of belonging to a common European space.

“People and communities – across Ireland – are the custodians of our heritage in all its richness and are very much at the heart of the programme for this year. This is reflected in the theme for Ireland: ‘Make a Connection’. This theme aims to deepen the connection between people and heritage and I would like to invite and encourage everybody to participate in Ireland's programme for the Year.

Chairman of the Heritage Council, Michael Parsons said: “The Heritage Council is very pleased to coordinate the European Year of Cultural Heritage in Ireland, an initiative which presents an excellent opportunity for everybody to make a new connection with our heritage, for example by visiting a museum, getting to know

the history behind a historic monument in their locality, or learning about our unique landscapes and wildlife habitats.

“Heritage is our cultural identity, values and traditions that we have inherited from previous generations, live with today, and pass on to future generations. It belongs to all of us and we should all engage with it and contribute to its protection, enhancement and promotion. Our vision for the year is to lay the foundations for a more empowered and connected heritage sector, and better connected audiences.”

National Coordinator of the European Year of Cultural Heritage, Beatrice Kelly said: “The main focus of the Heritage Council – and our partners across the cultural institutions, local heritage organisations and community groups – is to work together to ensure that everybody takes the time to engage with our heritage during this European Year. We hope its benefits will extend beyond 2018. Heritage is something we can all enjoy and it also plays an important role in supporting social cohesion, both within national borders and across Europe.”

The Heritage Council has developed a number of initiatives to support the implementation of the European Year of Cultural Heritage. They include: 
· An events calendar, available on a dedicated European Year of Cultural Heritage website. The calendar will be updated with events and activities – from workshops, exhibitions and lectures to film screenings and digital projects – throughout the year. 
· The Heritage Council is encouraging organisations and groups across the country to submit events for consideration as an EYCH initiative. Successful submissions will be granted the EYCH label and added to the events calendar. 
· The Heritage Council’s annual community grants scheme focuses on the theme ‘Make a Connection’ this year, encouraging communities throughout Ireland to build heritage connections that will last beyond 2018.
· ‘Le Chéile san Eoraip’, a special initiative coordinated by the Heritage Council, will see local authority heritage officers work with community groups to research heritage links – literary, historical, craft, architectural, linguistic, etc. – between their community and a community in another European country.

The programme for the European Year of Cultural Heritage was launched at the National Museum of Ireland at Kildare Street, Dublin. The Museum will participate in the European Year through a number of activities, including an exhibition called ‘Caution! Fragile: Tradition in Transition’ by renowned Irish glass artist Róisín De Buitléar, to be hosted in the NMI - Decorative Arts & History in Collins Barracks, Dublin.

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Contact: Sebastian Enke / David O’Donnell, DHR Communications, Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-3239496 / 086-1081139

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