CHARTER Alliance Dublin General Meeting: Towards a European Cultural Heritage Skills Alliance (11-13 December)

CHARTER Alliance Dublin General Meeting: Towards a European Cultural Heritage Skills Alliance (11-13 December)

CHARTER Alliance
In the enchanting backdrop of Dublin, CHARTER Alliance unfolded its last 2023 commitment —a three-day exploration of heritage, policy, and collaborative triumphs. From December 11 to 13, 2023, Dublin served as the canvas for crucial discussions to advance the project, masterfully hosted by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, The Heritage Council, and the Office of Public Works.

Day 1: CHARTER Alliance’s Irish National Stakeholders Day 

The inaugural day of the CHARTER Alliance Dublin meeting was marked by the Irish National Stakeholders Day—a convergence of cultural minds under the Dublin sky. The conference’s kick-off was graced by welcoming speeches by Malcolm Noonan T.D., Minister of State for Nature, Heritage, and Electoral Reform; Virginia Teehan, CEO of The Heritage Council; and Gretta Doyle, Senior Architect at the Office of Public Works, who extended a warm welcome to nearly 150 participants gathered to explore CHARTER and its goals.

Lluís Bonet, CHARTER Coordinator (University of Barcelona), introduced the project’s aims and methodology, while Mariachiara Esposito, Policy Officer at DG EAC (European Commission), brought the audience up to speed with crucial EU policy updates and opportunities.

The first session unveiled future-focused heritage initiatives in Ireland. Gerogina Laragy presented The Sean McDermott Street Magdalene Laundry and Open Heart City; Ciaran Wallace explained The Virtual Treasury project, digitally recreating destroyed public record office archives; and Lorna Elms & Mary O’Malley showcased the iCAN Irish Community Archives Network.

The second session featured a diverse panel sharing views on identifying skills needs in heritage professionals in Ireland and the cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary working and learning needed to futureproof the sector. Lynn Scarff (National Museum of Ireland), Muirne Lydon (Institute of Conservators-Restorers in Ireland), Janet Hancock (Public Records Office of Northern Ireland), Michael O’Boyle (Buildings of Ireland Charitable Trust and The Irish Landmark Trusts), Elizabeth Crooke (Ulster University), and Bairbre Ní Fhloinn (ICOMOS Ireland) engaged in a dialogue that echoed the challenges and opportunities in the field.

CHARTER Alliance

As the afternoon commenced, participants divided into groups to reflect on three challenges: climate adaptation and building the skills to recognize, safeguard, and integrate heritage in implementing SDGs; sustaining education and training to build heritage skills in regions with low numbers, fragmented employment structures, and/or tradition of non-formal transmission; and future-proofing participatory governance, strategic foresight, and leadership.

CHARTER Alliance milestone unveiled: lessons learned from the regions

The day reached its crescendo with the presentation of CHARTER Alliance regional case studies, introduced, moderated and led by Astrid Hannes (ERRIN). Representatives from Basque Country (Ainhoa Bernabé), Sibiu (Ciprian Ştefan), Bremen (Claudia Harms), Alentejo (Alexandra Correia), Tuscany (Miriana Bucalossi), and Västra Götaland (Marie Odenbring Widmark) shared key findings in terms of their heritage ecosystem and education, training, and skills. The regional workshops carried out between 2021-2023 revealed:

  • The super-diversity in regional Cultural Heritage ecosystems, with a complex interplay between heritage typologies, territorial features, governance features, density of the ecosystem, policy approach and governance traditions, and the nature and level of the sectoral and sector-integrated dynamics.
  • Continuous Professional Development (LLL) as the most important level of education to be strengthened, currently offering a not systematised offer, upskilling mostly performed on the job in an informal and non-formal way.
  • Crafts and crafts-related competencies are at risk of disappearance while being crucial to preserve important heritage in the regions.
  • Upskilling should primarily target competencies to address the impact of Climate change, the Digital and other complex transitions.
  • The topic of skills for Cultural Heritage is only slowly emerging in most of the regions, for most of
    the regions the topic is new. Most regions lack a systemic approach for skills needs and gaps assessment and for skills strategy development from an ecosystem perspective.
  • A lack of political prioritization for Cultural Heritage in generally present, and for heritage skills related issues in particular. Regardless the great willingness, collaboration remains fragmented, mostly project-based and not systemic, and not embedded in policy frameworks or long-term strategies.

The session was enriched with insights from mirroring regions, including Clara Villalba Montaner (Aragón), Federica Diamanti (Emilia-Romagna), and Colin Tennant (Scotland). Miguel Fernández Díez, Policy Officer at the Pact for Skills Unit, DG Employment (European Commission), concluded the day with reflections and conclusions.

We are proud and excited to have conducted this milestone session addressing our regional experiences with their representatives present to account their own main findings and reflections. CHARTER has also worked on pathways and suggestions to tackle and better-orient the regional challenges identified, which will be fully disclosed in our upcoming report on the regional case studies, to be launched in January 2024.


Day 2. CHARTER Alliance General Meeting kicks-off, focusing on policy and next steps

On December 12, the CHARTER Alliance entered its General Meeting, a strategic gathering that promised to unravel the latest developments and set the stage for the project’s final year in 2024.

The General Assembly was held to start the day, with consortium members presenting updates and next steps, providing a comprehensive overview of CHARTER’s state of the arts. Following this, Astrid Hannes (ERRIN) took the floor, guiding members through a practical session focused on stakeholder mapping. Using a specific methodology, all members worked on placing stakeholders in a matrix based on their level of engagement, interest, and influence in relation to CHARTER.

The afternoon was dedicated to policy, a pivotal aspect of CHARTER’s 2024 endeavours. Ondina Taut (National Heritage Institute Romania) and Erminia Sciacchitano, CHARTER Expert Advisor, led a session on drafting policy recommendations, offering practical advice and examples. Directly linked, Project Officer, Herman Bashiron Mendolicchio, and Coordinator, Lluís Bonet, presented a preliminary selection of clusters of recommendations, containing a list of findings and recommendations.

The consortium members then split into five groups to discuss each of the clusters of recommendations. This collaborative and participatory exercise led to intense and meaningful discussions, which takes the project a step closer to the final shape of this important document. The groups established will now continue elaborating on the basis of the progress achieved in Dublin.

The last meeting of the day was focused on the project’s Expert Advisory Board members, who shared their assessment and feedback of the work carried out so far to keep improving CHARTER Alliance’s work and production.

To close a hard working day, consortium members were welcomed in the City Assembly House, where they learned from the Digital Repository of Ireland and Stone-Work, a European Research Council Advanced Grant project.

Day 3: Closing of our General Meeting

On December 13, the final day of the CHARTER Alliance General Meeting commenced by continuing working in groups to analyse and refine the preliminary set of final recommendations.

In an insightful session, members learned how other EU blueprints projects built their long-term alliance. Denise O’Leary and Fernanda Lima Rabelo from the Tourism Blueprint, and Gloria Callinan from the Construction Blueprint, shared their strategies and challenges, moderated by Oana Zaharia, General Manager of INP.

The afternoon brought a delightful exploration of Dublin’s heritage jewels. Members visited 14 Henrietta Street, Na Píobairí, the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin Castle, Trinity College’s Old Library, and the Anatomy Museum.

CHARTER Alliance marked the end of a successful three-day journey, where all consortium partners showed once again their high involvement and commitment to the project, engaging in rich and fruitful discussions and exchanges that will push the project forward and will ensure the quality and rigor of our final recommendations to be presented next year.


Pictures from day 1 and stakeholder mapping session on day 2: ©Photographic Archive, National Monuments Service, Government of Ireland 

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