CHARTER Alliance meets in Rotterdam from 19-21 June: Highlights and Takeaways

CHARTER Alliance meets in Rotterdam from 19-21 June: Highlights and Takeaways

CHARTER Alliance
CHARTER Alliance held a successful Open Day and General Meeting in Rotterdam, in partnership with Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC) and the Cultural Heritage Agency of The Netherlands. Key discussions included enhancing education and training in cultural heritage, addressing sensitive historical topics, and integrating technology in learning environments. The event concluded with valuable feedback for CHARTER's final recommendations, set to be presented at the Final Conference in Brussels on 22 October 2024.

CHARTER Alliance Open Day in Rotterdam

Under the title “CHARTER’s Proposals for a Future-proof Heritage Sector“, the CHARTER Alliance reunited Dutch stakeholders for an open day in partnership with Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC) and the Cultural Heritage Agency of The Netherlands.

The day began with a warm welcome from Martine van Selm, Dean of ESHCC, and Lluís Bonet, CHARTER Coordinator (University of Barcelona). Our member, Anna Mignosa (ESHCC), was in charge to introduce provided an overview of CHARTER’s achievements and future goals, highlighting the blocks of recommendations prepared for the project.

Jeroen Westerman, Built Heritage Advisor at the Cultural Heritage Agency of The Netherlands, presented the Dutch heritage ecosystem, emphasizing the challenges and roles of heritage in society. He discussed how heritage can both connect and divide communities, particularly in the context of climate change and decolonisation. Westerman also highlighted the transformation of churches due to secularization, noting that while these buildings lose their religious functions, their significant historical value limits the types of new uses they can be adapted to. Additionally, he raised questions about how digital culture affects the appreciation of working with original materials and techniques.

Wouter Smets, Assistant Professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam, led our first discussion on improving education and training in cultural heritage. He introduced two significant projects: UNCONTROVERSIAL, which focuses on equipping teachers with skills to address sensitive topics about Dutch colonial history, and SKILLSFOSTER, which explores the role of technology in creating engaging learning environments through augmented, extended, and mixed reality. Smets emphasized the need for education systems to be responsive to cultural heterogeneity and digital advancements.

CHARTER Alliance

The discussion was joined by Margret Hoekenga Idema, Vice-Chair of the Chamber of Specialized Craftsmanship (SBB), Menno Welling, Programme Manager at Reinwardt Academy, and Yvonne Ploum, Director of the Heritage Academy. They addressed various challenges in Vocational Education and Training (VET), such as the financial constraints that schools face when offering courses and the high cost of training for students. They also discussed the importance of practical, on-the-job training and the need for role models to inspire young people to pursue careers in heritage. The conversation underscored the necessity of balancing traditional skills with innovative techniques to ensure the preservation of heritage while adapting to future challenges.

CHARTER Alliance

The second discussion held, under the title “The future of the past”, provided us with insightful practical examples of the work carried out by Museovirasto – The Finnish Heritage Agency, presented by Pirjo Hamari; FARO – Flemish Institution for Cultural Heritage, presented by Jacqueline van Leeuwen; and De Kerkvernieuwers (“The Church Innovators”), presented by Sander Ummelen. Through all these examples, we were able to further reflect on how to foster participation, engagement and healthy dialogues through heritage.

In the afternoon, participants engaged in four parallel group discussions connected to CHARTER’s draft recommendations, focusing on learning new skills for the future, making crafts dynamic and adaptable, increasing the visibility of heritage practices through data, and promoting participatory democracy through heritage. The feedback and suggestions from these discussions will inform the CHARTER consortium’s final recommendations.

 

To finalise our day, we had the opportunity to travel on a historical tram to discover Rotterdam’s captivating architecture, and enjoy a dinner at Verhalenhuis Belvédère, a fascinating example of preserving intangible heritage.

 

General Meeting for CHARTER Alliance Consortium Partners

Following the Open Day, on 20-21 June, consortium partners gathered for the official General Meeting. Taking place at Erasmus University Rotterdam and HMC College (Wood & Furniture College), the meeting was crucial for addressing and reflecting on the state of the art of the project’s recommendations and final deliverables, as well as discussing the next steps for the project’s sustainability. This was also the occasion to hold our General Assembly and Experts Advisory Board Meeting.

 

HMC College, an independent postsecondary vocational college, provided us with valuable insights. The college trains students for professions in woodworking, furniture, and interior design sectors in The Netherlands. Established in 1929, the school emphasizes creativity, craftsmanship, and entrepreneurship, with campuses in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Thanks to the volunteering students, we enjoyed a firsthand tour of the different courses offered.

 

The project is now in its final working stage, concluding in December 2024. We are pleased to announce that the Final Conference of CHARTER will take place on 22 October 2024 at the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the EU in Brussels, Belgium. More details will be announced soon, but please save the date if you are considering joining.

 

We thank the members and students of Erasmus University Rotterdam for hosting and organising this fruitful encounter. The event was a significant milestone for CHARTER, bringing together experts and stakeholders to advance the field of cultural heritage through education, training, and innovative practices. We are proud of the immense wealth of knowledge produced and shared with the cultural heritage sector so far, and we are very excited for the upcoming stages, when we will share the final recommendations of the project.

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