In June and September 2017 the Heritage Consortium participated in the Voices of Culture brainstorming meeting and structured dialogue opened by the European Commission with selected stakeholders on the topic “Skills, Training and Knowledge Transfer: traditional and emerging heritage”. The structured dialogue resulted in the production of an advisory report for the European Commission produced in collaboration with over 34 Cultural Heritage stakeholders from across Europe.

Participants were asked to focus their discussions around the following questions:

  1. What are the boundaries of “traditional” and “emerging” (tangible, intangible and digital) heritage professions?
  2. What are the current challenges in the transmission of traditional knowledge faced by the heritage sector? Could you provide examples of how these challenges have been addressed and overcome by the cultural sector?
  3. What are the skills and training needs related to the “emerging” professions, including those concerning the digital shift? Could you provide examples of how these needs have been faced by the cultural sector?
  4. In what way is the sector professionalised? What structures are currently in place to deliver professional practitioners in the heritage sector?
  5. What is needed to enhance/develop capacity-building for cultural heritage and professionals?

The experience of coming together with a wide range of stakeholders invested in European Cultural Heritage was both humbling and somewhat dizzying. What became immediately apparent was that in such a rich and broad field a one-size fits all approach to training and knowledge transfer would be ludicrous and unworkable. Rather, participants in the structured dialogue had to quickly resign themselves to the fact that our discussions had to face massive dialogic challenges to avoid siloed thinking, but at the same time remain reasonable in terms of respecting the unique identities of various stakeholders in cultural heritage and heritage practitioners’ varied skillsets, knowledge and expertise.

Further to this, those of us coming from the United Kingdom were mindful of the great uncertainties and questions hanging over our ‘European’ status at this point in history. Yes, of course, the European Union isn’t the only thing that defines European identity, but nonetheless, we were being forced to think hard about our ‘British-Europeanness’, indeed, I think our French, German, Portuguese, Greek and other European counterparts were also contemplating our European commonality. Such considerations, however, were quieted when we came to focus on cultural heritage that bound us together through history, in our languages, landscapes, arts and cultural practices. And, furthermore, when we turned our attention to what we had been brought together to explore, i.e., skills, training and knowledge transfer, then the commonality of our shared experiences as practitioners and academics made talk of Brexit seem extraneous and out of touch with the deeper bonds between us a community united by ideas and culture.

After our initial meeting, further intellectual and authorial collaborations were carried out remotely around a number of key themes identified during the brainstorming structured dialogue. These themes include:

  1. The Power of Cultural Heritage
  2. Mapping Missions in the Cultural Heritage Sector
  3. Transversal Competencies and Methods for Capacity Building
  4. Current Challenges & Solutions in the Transmission of Traditional Knowledge

The themes ultimately came to form the chapters of the report which we presented to representatives of the European Commission in September 2017.

Voices of Cultural Brainstorming Report:

(October 2017)

For further information about the Voices of Culture initiative go to

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