Transylvania Trust

Civil Society Engagement in community building through the understanding, development, management and preservation of the built cultural heritage of the Western Balkans, 2010-2012

With the support of the European Union, the Transylvania Trust and its Partners were implement a project on Civil Society Engagement in community building through the management and preservation of the built cultural heritage of the Western Balkans.

The project lead by the Transylvania Trust Foundation aims to bring together CSO’s from within the region together with International partners for the implementation of concerted diverse actions related to protection, promotion, management, educational and capacity building elements specifically related to the historic environment.

The great richness in heritage which exists throughout the region of the Western Balkans, created through cultural diversity is in danger of disappearing. We aim to change this trend. We think there is a lack of perception within communities of what constitutes the historic environment and therefore a lack of awareness of the value of heritage, and that there is insufficient specialist training, which presents a shortage of skilled labour. We see a need to improve the educational base of heritage training, and a need for better educated management systems for heritage assets. A lack of dialogue at an inter-regional level between experts, NGO’s, Institutions, has stifled the development of the heritage sector and limited the effectiveness of Civil Society involvement. This is the issue that we aim to address and resolve.

The goal of the project was to strengthen the role of Civil Society/Cultural operators in raising awareness of the value (social, economic, educational, cultural) of the built cultural heritage in society building and community development. Our partners already have experience in this field, but the project will seek to engage other CSO’s/NGO’s who are at different levels of development within their own organizations and who will benefit through participation from this greater experience, and will help in perpetuating the effects beyond the duration of the projects. The ultimate beneficiaries of this project will be the inhabitants on the regions involved.

Specific objectives:

  • To strengthen the co-operation, networking capacities of CSO’s at an inter – regional level and at a wider European level,
  • To develop inter-regional cultural initiatives to improve understanding, promotion and practical conservation practice in the field of cultural heritage,
  • To foster communication and partnership between cultural operators at all levels including local authorities/municipalities, educational establishments, and institutions,
  • To raise the profile and understanding of the importance of cultural heritage across all sectors of society through the promotion of awareness raising programmes,
  • To create a network of expertise in heritage related issues that can be mobilized across the Western Balkans,

1. Assessment of existing heritage training initiatives, education, awareness raising, and formal programmes in the region.
2. Training the trainers.
3. Implementation of local heritage initiatives through the establishment of training and information programmes:

  • Establishment of practical training programmes in historic building restoration and building crafts skills,
  • Development of a programme for specialist workshops, related to the protection and rehabilitation/development of the historic environment,
  • Development of heritage awareness programmes with local schools,
  • Promotion of heritage awareness days,
  • Development of training programmes in heritage management and maintenance for local authority/municipality professionals and officials,
  • Developing capacity building programmes for NGO’s,

4. Dissemination through the development of a dedicated web-site and a series of publications edited in the languages indigenous to the region as well as English.

Target groups
The project targets organizations and individuals active in the maintenance, promotion and management of the built cultural heritage, such as:

  • Architects, structural engineers, planners, art historians, managers, archaeologists, students of conservation related studies within the universities, conservation companies, craftsmen,
  • CSO’s/ NGO`s engaged in cultural heritage but with limited experience in the field,
  • Local and central government, including regional heritage offices, and agencies, at policy and implementation level,
  • Schools and universities,
  • Owners of historic buildings
  • International organizations who can influence the role of CSO’s
  • And last but not least, the general public will benefit from the results of this project.

Location, duration and partners
The project duration was 22 months, and it took place in several regions and location in the West Balkan area, such as Romania (Cluj, Bontida), Serbia (Belgrade), Kosovo (Pristina, Priznen), Albania (Gjirokastra), Bosnia-Herzegovina (Sarajevo), Montenegro (Kotor) and Croatia (Dubrovnik).

Transylvania Trust’s partners in this project were Europa Nostra (pan-european organisation), Cultural Heritage without Borders (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo), Europa Nostra Serbia, Expeditio (Montenegro), and Emancipimi Civil Ma Ndryshe (Kosovo).

The project was able to deliver quantifiable results in Heritage Training: 30 trained Managers, 178 trained professionals in heritage related skills, over 900 participants from schools and universities, participation of 20 local schools, and the engagement of 50 NGO’s. Awareness raising on the importance and value of built heritage will extend across the whole region, and all of the activities have been designed to be sustainable beyond the project period.

Sponsor: European Union