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... et a été une contribution à 2008 – Année européenne du dialogue interculturel. The first European Heritage Forum, organised within the context of the European Heritage Days – a joint action of the Council of Europe and the European Commission, took place in Brussels, on 23-24 October 2008, on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the European Heritage Days in Belgium and as a contribution to 2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. The Forum was opened on 23 October by Odile Quintin, Commission's Director-General for Education and Culture and by the representatives of the Council of Europe. Mrs. Quintin spoke on the role of cultural heritage in society and on the Commission's Agenda for culture in the coming years. During the opening session a panel was held on “The contribution of heritage to promoting dialogue” with contributions from specialists working in this area.
The panel was followed by round table discussions on “WHAT is the interaction between heritage and dialogue?”, “HOW can heritage be used to enhance dialogue?” and “WHICH ways forward?” These questions led to an interactive dialogue between the participants on the theory and practice of heritage. The participants were given the opportunity to participate in the discussions which were led by professional animators during the round table debates. The results of these round tables were presented to all the participants. Participants underlined the fact that heritage is an integral part of everyday life and that it should reflect society's diversity. The aim should be to involve children and youngsters in their heritage and to develop new interaction methods and channels for the experiencing of heritage. According to the participants dialogue should naturally involve heritage experts, but should also provide space for a bottom up approach.
On the second day, the results of the Forum were presented prior to an inspirational keynote speech by Dame Liz Forgan, Former Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the United Kingdom. Dame Forgan gave examples of how the Lottery Fund has made education an integral part of its activities.
Vladimir Sucha, Commission's Director for Culture, Multilingualism and Communication, closed the Forum with a speech in which he discussed the links between cultural heritage, creativity, education and innovation, themes which will be highlighted in 2009 during the European Year of Creativity and Innovation. He thanked participants for their open and visionary attitude. The discussions which were held during this Forum and the themes which were identified can feed into following gatherings on cultural developments, such as the Creative Forum which will be taking place in coming March and the Cultural Forum (Autumn 2009).