Advanced training for the 2017-2021 EEA Grants Period

An approach in line with current socio-economic problems must be the central focus in all revitalization projects of the Transylvanian castles in the coming funding period as well. The grants from Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein for the 2017-2021 period will offer a number of possibilities in this respect. There will be grants available not only in the field of conservation and revitalization of cultural heritage but also in other complementary fields such as social inclusion, community development, volunteering and youth involvement.
The goal of PONT Group is to obtain more than 100,000 euros from the EEA Grants in the coming funding period to further develop the Castle in Transylvania Program. This amount granted in the 2017-2021 funding period was used to develop the Castle in Transylvania Program and to create sustainable working mechanisms for the revitalization of castles and manors in Transylvania.

To this end, in September 2017, the managers of PONT Group took part in a study visit to Oslo (Norway) in the framework of the Castle in Transylvania Program. The partner organization of this visit was INTBAU Scandinavia through a project aimed to develop bilateral relations between the PONT Group and partner institutions from the EEA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).

INTBAU Scandinavia is a professional organization bringing together academics, experts, community leaders and other supporters from the Scandinavian countries to promote the values ​​of traditional architecture and design. INTBAU Scandinavia has contributed directly to the recent restoration of Kálnoky Castle from Micloșoara, Covasna County.

During the visit, the managers of PONT Group met with Terje Nypan and Desire Hopen Standal, representatives of the Cultural Heritage Directorate within the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment and Climate. This directorate is responsible for coordinating the Domain of Cultural Heritage in the frameworks of the EEA Grants. The fact that this department belongs to this specific ministry, highlights that Norwegians address the question of cultural heritage in the broader context of the natural environment. During this meeting, we had the opportunity to present the approaches and results of the Castle in Transylvania Program directly to the funding entity.

Meeting – Directorate for Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Enviroment and Climate and INTBAU Scandinavia
The EEA Grants and Norway’s Cultural Heritage Directorate cooperate with the Ministry of Culture in Romania to strengthen the bilateral cooperations between the cultural sectors of Norway and Romania. Norwegian institutions play a strategic role in both the planning and implementation of these funding programs, and the Directorate also contributes to facilitating project partnerships. The latest agreement between Romania and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein was signed for the 2014-2021 funding cycle and these programs are in progress at the moment. At the meeting, representatives of the PONT Group and INTBAU Scandinavia received useful information about the ongoing projects in Romania, and the difficulties of these processes were also presented in a Memo-format. Moreover, representatives of the PONT Group also had the opportunity to present their own experiences in managing a project funded by the EEA grants and the results of this project.

In the context of the study visit, the representatives of PONT Group also initiated collaborations with other organizations such as with Norges Vel (in the areas of economic and rural community development as well as social responsibility in the private sector), the Norwegian Youth Council (in the areas of young people’s participation in the process of revitalization of cultural heritage), UNESCO Norway, the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) and with Hedmark University.

PONT Group has agreed with its new partners to initiate projects in the future, where the different Norwegian organizations have a concrete and explicit role in developing medium- and long-term organic collaborations in order to win the proposed financial grants. In this respect, projects that address the area of cultural heritage preservation should be complemented by projects addressing other areas supported by EEA Grants in the following cycle – such as local socio-economic development, social cohesion, youth involvement and rural entrepreneurship. It is through such partnerships with different Norwegian organizations and with the help of these specific funds, that we imagine the economical and social development of Transylvanian local communities where the castles or manors are located.

At the same time, during the study visit, we had the opportunity to see good examples of revitalization of Norwegian cultural heritage, including the Akerhus Castle in Oslo, The Norwegian Folk Museum (Norsk Folkemuseum) and the Oslo Kulturnatt (White Nights of Culture). The latter took place on the evening of 15 September in the capital, in several locations simultaneously.

The way of management of these places and events will serve as inspiration for similar projects and initiatives under the Castle in Transylvania Program between 2018-2021, such as the Open Days of the Transylvanian Castles, the revitalization of some castles in Transylvania in the framework of the Castle in Transylvania Coalition as well as community development projects where castles can have a role of socio-economic catalysts while the built cultural heritage is being preserved.

The Castle in Transylvania Program wishes to emphasize its goals to help with (local and regional) community development and to ensure the preservation of local cultural heritage through community development which creates social innovation through participation, entrepreneurship and culture. Built cultural heritage can be protected only if it is adapted to the needs and demands of the 21st century.

The study visit was conducted within a project funded by an EEA grant (a grant offered by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) administered by the Ministry of Culture and National Identity in Romania through its Project Management Unit within the program entitled ‘Preserving and Revitalizing Cultural and Natural Heritage’ – the Bilateral Cooperation Scheme, funded through the EEA Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 with an amount of RON 340,782.43 and an additional amount of 4,000 EUR for this study visit.

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