Upon the invitation of Cllr Mrs Linda Gillham the European Alliance group of the EU's Committee of the Regions held a seminar on Promoting and Preserving Europe's diverse Culture and heritage in Runnymede on Monday 2nd June 2014.
During the meeting the Members of the Group confirmed their belief that culture and cultural heritage is a human value, which supports national, regional and local identity, protecting cultural and linguistic diversity, with due respect for lesser used and regional languages. Promoting culture and cultural heritage is essential in order to strengthen democratic values in Europe and to contribute to social and economic cohesion.
A vibrant debate was held with European Commission and representatives from across Europe on the cultural heritage as a very broad concept which does not include only tangible artefacts but a wide range of shared values, beliefs, lifestyles and practices which strongly influence our perceptions and our daily lives. The Members stressed that it is of paramount importance to preserve and promote the different regional and local identities which make the European cultural heritage unique which are endangered by migratory movements and economic globalisation. At the same time they were reminded of the huge socio-economic benefits that our cultural heritage brings to our towns and cities.
Mr Dennis Abbott, Spokesperson for the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth gave a detailed overview of how the European Commission prioritised Culture and Heritage across the EU and the funding possibilities.
Mr Stewart Maxwell, EA Coordinator on EDUC Commission and Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee focussed on the Scottish governments prioritising the incredible rich culture and heritage resources in his Country.
Mr. Rik VERWAEST historian and second alderman in the city of Lier gave a fabulous insight on the promotion of the diverse European cultural heritage, especially the city marketing of Lier.
Europe's Rivers and Culture Heritage was the focus of the intervention of Prof. Marek Dutkowski from Szczecin University, Poland.
The role of museums in preserving and promoting culture and heritage was the focus of Mrs Sigrid Karon, the Kohtla Mining Park Museum, Estonia.
Cllr Mrs Linda Gillham, who hosted the meeting, said: "I see European cultural heritage as a factor in the showcasing of European diversity with its key role in forging a vital sense of understanding and identity of the richness of Culture and Heritage across the European Union. At the same time I would like to acknowledge the benefits that our cultural heritage brings through activities such as arts, tourism, food specialities, and enjoyment of the historic environment. I am very happy to host the meeting on this issue and welcome in Runnymede my colleagues from different part of Europe".
Link to Runnymede Declaration EN