The event “B+CARE: Balkan Cultural Aid Response for Emergencies”, a first of its kind, has been co-organised by Cultural Heritage without Borders (CHwB) Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Kosovo, and by Cultural Emergency Response (CER).
The German Archaeological Institute - DAI had the honour of being invited to the conference to present the project KulturGutRetter (KGR), which is being developed with the Federal Agency for Technical Relief - THW and the Leibniz Center for Archaeology - LEIZA. Several aspects of this “Cultural Heritage Response Unit”, including the integrated team structure between cultural heritage and civil protection professionals, the mobile emergency lab (1) and the ID-Cards for movable heritage (2), were very well received by the audience as important steps towards better preparedness and response for the protection of cultural heritage. The DAI also participated in a panel discussion on “the importance of collaboration and coordination of cultural heritage and emergency response experts”, alongside with experts from International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property - ICCROM, International Council of Monuments and Sites - ICOMOS, Museum Kosovo, the Museum Centre in Hordaland - MUHO and the Civil Emergency Response Agency in Albania.
Moreover, the conference provided the opportunity to present best practices coming from the PROCULTHER-NET project, reaching out to a wider European and national audience and thus strengthening the thematic community. During the panel discussion, the close collaboration between the civil protection and the cultural heritage sectors – that is being promoted by the PROCULTHER-NET Consortium in all its activities – was highlighted as a model to follow: starting at the prevention and preparedness phases, both at the national and European levels.
The valuable resources published by PROCULTHER-NET were also brought to the attention of the audience, especially the Technical Bulletins, which 2nd issue just recently released (June 2023). The two Consortium partners that were present at the conference, the DAI and ICCROM, had the pleasure to see that the “Key elements for a European methodology to address the protection of cultural heritage during emergencies”, published by the previous project PROCULTHER, was referred to by several participants, showing that this important document is being widely adopted by the heritage community throughout Europe and beyond.
The B+CARE conference saw the launch of four new translations of the ICCROM “First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis” Handbook and Toolkit in the languages of the Balkans, realised with the support of CER and CHwB. Making these important resources available to a larger range of experts by breaking down language barriers and by agreeing on new common national terminologies is a major step toward the establishment of cultural heritage protection in crisis management.
Through their diversity and complementarity, the speakers of this content-rich conference converged towards a common take-away message: the importance of local and regional collaboration, between the cultural heritage and the civil protection sector, but also across borders and between countries that share challenges and objectives. Building common tools, processes and network is the only way to enhance the proficiency and the efficiency of the cross-sectoral experts that will be called upon to intervene for the protection of cultural heritage.
(1) See the article ““KulturGutRetter (KGR): technical characteristics of a cultural heritage response unit” in the Technical Bulletin #1, March 2023.
(2) See the article “Data acquisition and data management for the emergency rescue of cultural heritage” in the Technical Bulletin #2, June 2023.