Hackfall has enjoyed a renaissance due to its restoration undertaken by a combination of professional experts and enthusiastic volunteers, which have faithfully followed the imaginative vision of its 17th century founder. The Jury was captivated by the authenticity of the restoration of the ruined buildings, highlighting the garden’s poetic communion with nature. The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum was granted the award for their exemplary initiative and long standing commitment with regard to creating a centre for training in historic building conservation. The centre is creating the next generation of skilled personnel for historic building conservation, while involving the wider public and a large number of volunteers through an inspirational learning environment. They will both receive a GBP 8,900 (Euros 10,000) prize.
EU Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou will give the awards along with the world-renowned tenor and president of Europa Nostra Plácido Domingo.
"Cultural heritage is an essential part of Europe's cultural diversity and shared history; it brings together our past, present and future. It helps to regenerate neighbourhoods and brings people from different backgrounds together. It has also helped to make Europe the world's top tourist destination and contributes significantly to the Union's economy," said Commissioner Vassiliou.
"These exemplary achievements are sending a strong message to everyone in Europe. The value of cultural heritage is essential for Europe - for the economy and for our social cohesion – but above all for our sense of belonging and our sense of pride and happiness," added Europa Nostra’s President, Plácido Domingo.
The award ceremony tonight will take place at Amsterdam's historic concert hall, the 'Concertgebouw'. The H.R.H. Princess Margriet of The Netherlands will also attend and will host a reception for the winners at the Royal Palace. The ceremony will include a rare performance of Franz Liszt's only opera, Don Sanche.
The 2012 competition is already open and the deadline for applications is 1 October 2011. The awards ceremony will be held in Lisbon in June 2012.
The awards have been supported by the Culture Programme of the European Union since 2002. The Culture Programme has invested GBP 23 million (Euros 26 million) in co-financing heritage projects since 2007. Other EU-funded programmes also provide support in this area: the European Regional Development Fund allocates GBP 2.6 billion (Euros 3 billion) for the protection and preservation of cultural heritage, GBP 19.5 billion (Euros 2.2 billion) for the development of cultural infrastructure and GBP 689.5 million (Euros 775 million) to support cultural services for 2007-2013; a further GBP 79 million (Euros 89 million) has been made available through EU Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development since 1998. The sector represents an important part of the cultural and creative industries, which provide jobs for 8.5 million people in the EU and contributes 4.5 percent to Europe's GDP. Spending on conservation of cultural heritage by public and private bodies is worth an estimated GBP 4.4 billion (Euros 5 billion) a year and represents 40 percent of worldwide international tourism trade.
Europa Nostra is the voice of cultural heritage in Europe. It brings together and represents 250 non-governmental organisations, 150 associate organisations and 1500 individual members from more than 50 countries that are committed to safeguarding Europe’s cultural and natural heritage. They campaign against threats to vulnerable heritage buildings, sites and landscapes and for sustainable policies and high quality standards in heritage. Plácido Domingo is the president of Europa Nostra. The awards ceremony in Amsterdam forms part of Europa Nostra's annual European Heritage Congress. It is also funded by the Association of Charity Lotteries in the European Union.
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