First meeting of the programme operators within the area of „Conservation and Revitalization of Cultural and Natural Heritage“ was held in the Czech Republic in the end of 2016.
Český Krumlov, the UNESCO world heritage site with medieval charm located in the southern Bohemia, welcomed 36 participants from 9 countries. Representatives from Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Norway and Greece gathered here for three days full of meetings, discussions, networking and project visits. Having such a broad group consisting of the programme operators, their national and donor state programme partners (The Directorate for Cultural Heritage and The Arts Council Norway), project promoters (Czech National Heritage Institute and Slovak Monuments Board) and the Arts Council of Greece, lead in the complex sharing of experience and improved understanding of discussed issues.
Despite the diversity of the funding across the countries, the supported projects within this programme area contribute to addressing social and economic disparities and strengthening bilateral relations. Since most of the projects will have been finalized by April 2017, their sustainability was one of the most discussed issues. The funding provides opportunities and the use of the cultural heritage for the social and regional development resonated among the participants.
One of the projects, an illustration of the long-term results of the funding, was visited during the meeting. The National Heritage Institute in the Czech Republic received support from the EEA Grants 2009-2014 to revitalize one part of the Český Krumlov Castle and Chateau which has witnessed moving changes throughout its history. The Column Hall, former stables in the first chateau courtyard and later the seat of the NSDAP and the Czechoslovak state police was renovated for its new purpose. The Column Hall from now on serves Czech and foreign students as a Study Centre for education and research in the areas of the administration and the restoration of cultural monuments and the regional development. Dozens of students will be able to stay and study in the beautiful UNESCO world heritage surroundings every year.