Heritage economies and “sustainable” development as “a way out of the Greek Crisis”
17 January 2018, Eleusina – Greece
During the Greek economic crisis, media circulate many stereotypes that depict Greeks as lazy and refusing to work hard as other Europeans. However, the Greek Ministry of Culture (MoC) considers Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) as a tool to provide a solution to the economic crisis and the negative image of Greece. Based on this, the MoC has created a strategy focusing on the promotion of agro-food products and techniques as well as other traditional crafting techniques by inscribing them on an ICH list (national or international). The aim is that the inscriptions will become leverage for other public mechanisms (such as Erasmus+ funding) that will create new jobs for the communities. Moreover, the inscriptions will enhance the visibility of the communities that practice these ICH elements in order to attract more tourism, and strengthen the commerce and local economy. Furthermore, this also will highlight “the hard work of Greeks” and fight the stereotypes. However, using ICH for to enhance the local economy is a grey zone for UNESCO and the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the ICH that is the main framework of MoC regarding ICH. This grey zone creates a space of creative frictions by allowing to the actors many interpretations of the Convention relating to the commercialisation of ICH. Thus, the current economic crisis becomes the motivation for individuals to highlight that Intangible Cultural Heritage can provide ways to overcomes difficulties by designing heritage-centred plans based ideas of (sustainable) development.
The Directorate of Modern Cultural Heritage (DMCH) organised the Cultural Heritage Information Event in order to inform about the European Year for Cultural Heritage 2018 cultural associations, the local governance and institutions working on tourism, “traditional agro-food producers”, environmental education centres and other heritage-related institutions. There, the DMCH informed the attendees about i) what the European Year for Cultural Heritage 2018 is, ii) the procedure of how heritage related organisation could incorporate their events and activities in the schedule of the activities of the European Year for Cultural Heritage 2018 and be allowed to use its logo, and iii) how the institutions could collaborate with DMCH in the valorisation of Intangible Cultural Heritage through these activities.
The event attracted many representatives of Intangible Cultural Heritage institutions which have inscribe an element on (Greek) National list of Intangible Cultural Heritage as well as others who are working towards the inscriptions of an element. The audience had many questions and was keen to receive the European Year for Cultural Heritage as it was seen as a way to disseminate their activities, help the safeguarding of their element and possibly attract some economic capital that will be ‘invested’ in safeguarding activities.
It was an event which the UNESCO Friction project was present looking at the ways that the implementation of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage could crossover with European policies and their implementation. 2018 will be a very active year in Europe that discussions about Cultural Heritage will reemerge and the UNESCO Friction project will continue to analyse the creative frictions which will arise from the crossovers of transnational policies with National ones as well as with practices of the local actors.
During the twelfth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage 39 elements have been inscribed on the Unesco Lists. The inscription of the “Art of Neapolitan ‘Pizzaiuolo’” on the Representative List generated considerable media attention. Some members of the “community” were present at the meeting in Korea. Representatives of the Associazione pizzaiuoli napoletani and Associazione verace pizza napoletana included some of the Australian, Japanese and Korean members of these associations.