The event is taking place under the patronage of Aníbal Cavaco Silva, President of Portugal, who will also be present, and José Manuel Barroso, President of the Commission. Of the 28 winning projects, six will be named as 'grand prix' laureates as 2012’s most outstanding heritage achievements.
"Europe's cultural heritage is unique in the world. The European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage highlights excellence in conservation, research, education, training and awareness raising, as well as dedicated service by individuals and groups. I would like to warmly congratulate this year's winners for reminding us of our wonderfully rich and varied heritage that we should never take for granted. It is in our trust for future generations," said Commissioner Vassiliou.
"I am very pleased that the European Commission is once again Europa Nostra's partner in celebrating outstanding work in the field of cultural heritage. I also wish to congratulate the Commission for having confirmed its commitment to supporting our shared objectives through the proposed 'Creative Europe' programme. European funding is vital: it boosts creativity and innovation, which helps us to bring our past alive and to safeguard our treasures for the future," added Europa Nostra’s President, Plácido Domingo.
The 28 winners were selected from among 226 submitted projects from 31 countries. The awards are split into four categories – conservation, research, dedicated service, and education, training and awareness-raising. Each category has its own specialist jury, composed of independent experts from across Europe. All the winners receive a plaque or trophy. The six 'grand prix' winners also receive €10,000 each.
Cultural heritage brings a significant – and often underrated – contribution to job creation and growth. The sector represents an important part of the cultural and creative industries, which provide jobs for 8.5 million people in the EU and contribute up to 4.5% to Europe's GDP. Spending on conservation of cultural heritage by public and private bodies is worth an estimated €5 billion a year. Figures published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that 40% of worldwide tourism has a cultural dimension. Cultural heritage is also a key resource for sustainable development and social cohesion.
The awards are supported by the Culture Programme of the European Union, which has invested around €30 million in co-financing heritage-related projects since 2007. Other EU-funded programmes also provide support: the European Regional Development Fund has allocated for €6 billion for culture in 2007-2013. Of this, €3 billion supports the protection and preservation of cultural heritage, €2.2 billion aids the development of cultural infrastructure and €775 million co-funds cultural services such as vocational training, arts and heritage education, promotion of heritage routes, etc; a further €150 million has been made available through EU Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development since 1998.
To find out more:
Presentations on each winning project (Europa Nostra website);
European Commission - Culture;
Androulla Vassiliou's website;
Flickr - Europa Nostra;
Youtube - Europa Nostra