Official launch of Innocastle and the first study visit in Romania

Innocastle, an ambitious new European project dedicated to castles, manors and estates was launched on 2 October 2018 in Bucharest. Here we take a look at the project is aiming to achieve.

An international team of experts and policy makers participated at the first Innocastle study visit, at the Marghiloman Manor in Hagiesti. ©Vlad Bâscă

The main objective of the Innocastle project is to share experience in policy and practice leading to the development of new, improved policies for heritage. Policy change will be demonstrated via the development and implementation of an action plan in each region.

Knowledge Partner

The National Trust is a ‘knowledge partner’ of the Innocastle project. This means we’re drawing on our wide experience and expertise to provide relevant case studies and ideas. It’s a great opportunity to showcase the National Trust approach at a European level. It also supports our work with International National Trusts Organisation (INTO) by reinforcing their strategic priorities.

In many European countries, current heritage policies are outdated and do not reflect real needs and opportunities. Innocastle therefore seeks to improve the legislative environment in four partner regions (Belgium, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain) by stimulating the exchange of know-how between the project partners.

The National Trust is particularly involved in the interregional learning activities. Furthermore, we’ll provide advice in areas such as marketing, programming and the involvement of local communities and volunteers.

Networking at the Innocastle launch ©Vlad Bâscă.

Study visit to Romania

Innocastle kicked off with a lunch event in Bucharest, followed by a two-day study visit throughout Romania. A team of international experts and policy makers visited several sites to assess the situation and formulate suggestions for improvement.

The host partner also organised a seminar on public-private partnerships and quality in restoration. Emma Thompson, General Manager at Powis Castle, spoke about the National Trust’s experience:

“I was impressed by the level of conservation taking place and local enthusiasm to ensure and support quality. It was really refreshing to learn about other countries’ experiences and approaches. Furthermore it was interesting to see how land ownership, economics and politics determine the survival of history and heritage”.

Thematic seminar on the themes public private partnerships and quality in restoration. Organised during the study visit in Romania within Innocastle. ©Vlad Bâscă

Recommendations

The study visit reinforced the opinion that historic castles, manors and estates must be managed in context and should be encouraged to act as catalysts for regional development. Some preliminary conclusions were made at the end of the study visit, which included:

  • Cooperation at local and regional level, but also with civil society, is necessary for the preservation and transformation of the rich collection of castles and manors in Romania
  • Cooperation should be stimulated and supported by public policies and legislative and financial instruments at national and European level
  • The involvement of local communities in the conservation, transformation and exploitation of heritage is essential to ensure sustainable business models that support the local economy
  • Partnerships (private-private, public-private, etc) may be a good solution
  • Approaching historic castles, manors and estates from a landscape perspective and at network level is necessary to stimulate regional development
  • The importance of publicity campaigns to increase the awareness of these sites was highlighted by several partners.

The next step in the project is the completion of the baseline survey to create a solid base for the comparison and improvement of each region’s policies. The National Trust has inputted into the methodology but as it is not working on a policy in the UK, is not involved in the survey. The Trust is however planning the next study visit which will take place in Wales next May.

“Being part of Innocastle is an opportunity to learn and share with European colleagues”

Catherine Leonard, INTO Secretary-General.

What is Innocastle?

It’s about innovating policy instruments for preservation, transformation and exploitation of heritage castles, manors and estates. European historic castles, manors and estates have the potential to become local catalysts for regional development and innovation. Innocastle prepares them for the future by stimulating resilient policies for conservation, transformation and exploitation. The consortium of partners is composed of: National Institute of Heritage in Romania (lead partner), University College Ghent in Belgium, Province of Gelderland in the Netherlands, Regional Government of Extremadura in Spain and the National Trust in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (knowledge partner, through INTO). The project is financed by Interreg Europe, with a total budget of €1,120,335.00 (85% ERDF, 15% co-financing).

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