On Monday, I spent a hot Bank Holiday in Brussels meeting partners in a new project within the Interreg Europe programme.
Last year, through our colleagues at the Gelderland Trust, we were introduced to the people developing INNOCASTLE. This is a project seeking to revitalise castles, manors and estates by developing new management models.
We submitted our first application last year. And we got ‘very close’, apparently. So the partnership, including colleagues from the Netherlands, Romania, Belgium, Spain and Italy, is now working on a revised proposal.
The central issue addressed by the INNOCASTLE project is that in most EU countries, policies towards preservation and exploitation of heritage sites are outdated. Moreover, they no longer reflect the real needs and opportunities of these places.
As a result of INNOCASTLE, several European regions will take up the important and complex challenge of heritage re-valorisation by exchanging knowledge and improving policy instruments. The common issues, shared by all partners of INNOCASTLE can be classified on three different levels:
1) Policy partnerships and multi-level governance
2) Promotion of cultural tourism and joint marketing
3) New business models and vital coalitions
INTO’s role is as ‘Knowledge Partner’. We will be part of an interregional pool of expertise and in addition will host a partner meeting and workshop.
The overall goal of INNOCASTLE is to improve policies governing heritage places and thereby drive regional development. For us, it’s a great opportunity to build capacity and experience for knowledge sharing. And also to support both the European (and wider) heritage community with learning and policy development.
It was great to meet everyone face-to-face and to get more of a feel for the project and our role in the workplan. I’m slightly daunted by the paperwork but luckily the lead partner is taking care of all of that side!
It’s been a long time since I made an EU funding application. Last time it was the ‘European Country House in the 21st Century’ or ECHo Project in 2005, I think. Interestingly, that partnership included the National Trust of Slovakia, the Gelderland Trust, An Taisce and the National Trust of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, all now members of INTO!
In some ways, INNOCASTLE will lead on where ECHo left off. ECHo not only offered country house owners and managers a methodology for encouraging participation. It also identified pan-European themes in heritage management, highlighting the importance of volunteering, tourism and joined-up thinking, amongst others. ECHo was a great success and I hope that INNOCASTLE will bring similar benefits to the INTO family.
The deadline for the project application is the end of June so we’ve still got a bit of time to finalise the partnership and figures. We won’t find out for a few months now whether or not our bid is a success. Wish us luck …
Thanks for reading!