This week, we heard that our funding application to the Interreg Europe programme had been approved. Whoop! Although not a huge project, we have been working on this proposal for several years, so it’s great news that it’s now going ahead.
Interreg Europe helps regional and local governments across Europe to develop and deliver better policy. The 54 projects approved in this round will help create an environment and opportunities for sharing solutions.
Our project is called INNOCASTLE (or INNOvating policy instruments for the preservation, transformation and exploitation of heritage CASTLEs, manors and gardens). Across Europe, policies towards the preservation and use of country houses don’t seem to reflect real needs or opportunities. The project plans to develop a new approach, one that is inclusive, place-based and economically and environmentally resilient. This will be modeled in four different regions (in Romania, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands).
INTO’s role in the project is as a knowledge partner. We will draw on the expertise of our wide network to show by example how effective policies can help strike the right balance between conservation, community engagement and economic return. INTO will be leading the learning activities, such as thematic seminars, study visits and peer reviews. We will also have an important role in the dissemination and communication of the activities and results of INNOCASTLE.
It’s been a long time since I participated actively in an EU project. When I joined the Trust we were just coming to the end of a huge European Exchange Programme and I remember having to finish the project – and submit the accounts! Later, I applied for EU funding for the ‘ECHo – European Country House in the 21st Century‘ project. Sadly I missed much of the delivery, but came back just in time to again submit the final documentation and accounts to the European Commission! Hopefully I’ll get to see this one right through …
So what are the benefits to INTO of participating in INNOCASTLE? The project reinforces our priorities of family, growth and voice. Firstly, Europe is by far our largest regional group and yet only ever convenes fairly loosely at our biennial Conference. INNOCASTLE could be a way to bring the INTO Europe family together more. Secondly, it will help grow Secretariat capacity and experience in sharing expertise and communications. And lastly, by inputting into policy proposals, we will have the opportunity to articulate our INTO voice.
I believe that being a part of INNOCASTLE will bring kudos to INTO amongst our partners and stakeholders. It will be an opportunity to learn and share with colleagues across Europe and beyond. And the funding will enable us to strengthen our networks, knowledge and visibility.
Finally, 2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage – what a great way to celebrate the past to build the future.
Thanks for reading!