Review of the Year
At the Europa Nostra UK (EN UK) AGM on 2 December the Chair, Sara Crofts, gave the following review of the activities from the past year.
"Since I took over from Dr Peter Collins I have embarked on a period of reflection with the support of the Committee. We have also been engaged in an exercise in putting our house into order with regard to our files and also the financial arrangements. This required us to work alongside the Secretariat in The Hague to deal with longstanding issues relating to bank accounts which, happily, are now largely resolved.
We have also commissioned the first ever EN UK website and have initiated a new form of communication with our members. This is the e-bulletin, which I hope that you have seen and are enjoying. Over time we will settle into a pattern of publishing the bulletins; at the moment I tend to write one when we have news to share. We’d also like to use it as a means to promote the Europe-related activities of our members, so do please pass on your relevant news and events for inclusion.
I would also like to note that we had one visit in the last year – to Winchester – led by Phil Turner and was very much enjoyed by those who took part. I would like to extend my thanks to Phil and Pam for all the work that went into this event.
As I hope you know the UK had one winner of an EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award in 2019. This was the wonderful Heritage Lottery Fund supported Yr Ysgwrn in Trawsfynydd, Gwynydd, Wales. Committee member Richard Morris has been our Awards Liaison Officer over the last year and I would like to pay tribute to the work that he has done to encourage and support the staff at Yr Ysgwrn in the run up to the awards ceremony in Paris in October and then the local award ceremony that took place on 11 November 2019.
Ambitions for the year ahead
Those who know me will be aware that I am not an enthusiast for spending too much time dwelling on what has happened in the past but would much rather look to the future. With that in mind there are two things I would like to set as our priorities for the coming year.
Hopefully members will be aware of the campaign that we ran to attract young people (18 to 30) in the UK to join Europa Nostra (EN). As a result of a social media campaign and through encouraging sector colleagues and like-minded organisations to spread the word we were able to gain 21 new members (one of whom is standing as a trustee today). This is a fantastic result and is the highest number of all the countries represented in Europa Nostra and so I think we can be very proud. We are extremely keen to engage with this exciting cohort of new members and to give them the opportunity to share their ideas and enthusiasm. As a start we chose to offer a bursary to new young members who wanted to attend the Europa Nostra Heritage Summit in Paris and were pleased to make awards to 2 recipients – Grace Connelly and Thomas Pierce. You will be able to read their reports on the website shortly. The bursaries have been made possible as a result of receiving a wonderful bequest from Wynford Evans.
Our next challenge will be thinking about how we might involve our young members in our work and give them an active role to play. This might begin with a workshop where we invite our young members to meet together and to work up a proposal for some activities that they would like to pursue.
Advocacy and engagement
The other key activity should be to continue to try to raise the profile of Europa Nostra UK and Europa Nostra. I have already been doing this informally alongside my day job as Chief Executive of Icon but the intention would be to increase our active efforts in this area next year.
In terms of events we are currently working on an idea for a panel debate to be held in London in the spring. The topic will be climate change and environmental sustainability. Climate Action is a topic that Europa Nostra is beginning to grapple with and we feel that EN UK should also play an active role.
The other question that we should grapple with is what it means to be a European cultural heritage body in the UK in the current political climate. Regardless of what happens with Brexit our relationship with the EU and Europe is changing and we need to think about how we might respond to this. For my own part I think that there are many people and organisations in the UK who would like to connect with others who remain committed to the European project and I would suggest that EN UK is the ideal place for this to happen. We should be positioning ourselves as bridge to Europe and shouting about our ability to support continuing partnerships between the UK and others. We look forward to exciting times ahead in 2020."