Heritage Crafts Georgia Wins Europa Nostra Award 2017

The European Commission and Europa Nostra revealed the winners of the 2017 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, Europe’s top honor in the heritage field. The 29 laureates from 18 countries were recognized for their notable achievements in conservation, research, dedicated service, and education, training and awareness-raising. Heritage Crafts Initiative for Georgia is among this year’s winners. Independent expert juries examined a total of 202 applications, submitted by organizations and individuals from 39 countries across Europe, and chose the laureates.

"I congratulate all the winners,” said Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. “Their achievements demonstrate once again how engaged many Europeans are in protecting and safeguarding their cultural heritage. Their projects highlight the significant role of cultural heritage in our lives and our society. Especially today, with Europe facing many big societal challenges, culture is vital in helping us to raise awareness of our common history and values and to foster tolerance, mutual understanding and social inclusion. The European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018 will be an ideal opportunity to focus on what binds us together as Europeans - our common history, culture and heritage. The European Commission will continue to support this prize and other heritage projects through our Creative Europe program”.

Maka Dvalishvili, Director of Georgian Arts and Culture (GACC) says that their project ‘Heritage Crafts Initiative for Georgia’ winning at the Europa Nostra Awards 2017 is a great success for Georgia not only in Europe but worldwide.

“The success achieved by GACC means that Georgia has become part of European cultural heritage and gained fame not only in Europe but in the whole world,” she told GEORGIA TODAY. “This success also highlights that GACC is a company which implements European-level projects,” she added.

The Tangible Side of Intangible: Heritage Crafts Initiative for Georgia is an ambitious program run by GACC which sets out to safeguard Georgia’s unique traditional crafts. The program’s primary focus is in ensuring the transmission of these artisanal skills, to the next generation of craftspeople by creating links between masters of the crafts and young apprentices. Special focus is paid to endangered crafts. In this way, it addresses a problem which is prevalent across Europe and offers insight into how the transmission of crafts can be encouraged in comparable regions of Europe.

The initiative was based on preliminary research studies and so their endeavours were evidence-based, efficiently planned and effective. In response to the results of their research, the project coordinated an extraordinary range of activities for those being trained in the production of crafts. In addition, special attention was paid to providing training to the instructors to address areas which were revealed to present a potential challenge. To provide this training, international experts were invited to build the capacity of local instructors in product development, quality standards and marketing. In turn, the instructors could pass this expertise to their students. In aiming to boost the business skills of artisans to support the marketability of their products, the Initiative sought a practical method of ensuring the sustainability of craft production.

The jury noted the resourcefulness of the Heritage Crafts Initiative for Georgia, observing that “this international training program, supported by EU funds, has unprecedented scope for Georgia. Its wide range of activities is impressive with a focus on the revival of crafts and the establishment of successful business models for the continuation of crafts”.

“With a strong emphasis on the transmission of skills from one generation to another, this project has harnessed Georgia’s traditions to contribute to economic and social development across the country, including in communities of religious and ethnic minorities and in rural mountainous areas. These efforts put culture at the centre of this vital progress and establish its role in creating sustainable economic enterprise”, said the jury.

The Tangible Side of Intangible: Heritage Crafts Initiative for Georgia has also worked to draw both public and state attention to the role of craft traditions in achieving these objectives. The program includes awareness-raising among local government representatives and celebrates excellence in their program with the ‘Craftsman of the Year’ award which is presented to the best teachers or transmitters of craft skills each year.

GACC has also been nominated for the Public Choice Awards. People can vote for their favorite projects on http://vote.europanostra.org/. The deadline for voting is May 3.

On May 15, the 2017 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, will be celebrated at a special event at the St. Michael’s Church in Turku, Finland. The ceremony will be co-hosted by Maestro Placido Domingo, President of Europa Nostra, and Tibor Navracsics.

During the ceremony, the seven Grand Prix laureates, entitled to receive €10,000 each, and the Public Choice Award winner, chosen from among this year’s winning projects, will be announced.

This major cultural heritage event is expected to bring together some 1,500 people, including heritage professionals, volunteers and supporters from all over Europe as well as top-level representatives from EU institutions, Member States and the host country.

“I warmly congratulate this year’s winners and pay tribute to all those who made these exceptional achievements possible, thanks to their formidable talent, passionate commitment and great generosity,” said renowned opera singer Plácido Domingo. “They are now among a select group of some 450 remarkable accomplishments awarded by Europa Nostra and the European Commission in the past 15 years. All our winners demonstrate that heritage is a key tool for sustainable economic development, social cohesion and a more inclusive Europe. EU leaders should seize the historic opportunity of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018 to recognize the multiple benefits of heritage and its fundamental value in bringing countries, communities and cultures together in Europe and beyond”.

Europa Nostra is the pan-European federation of heritage NGO’s which is also supported by a wide network of public bodies, private companies and individuals. Covering more than 40 countries in Europe, the organization is the voice of civil society committed to safeguarding and promoting Europe’s cultural and natural heritage. Founded in 1963, it is today recognized as the most representative heritage network in Europe.

13 April 2017 20:50