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  • Kicking off INNOCASTLE (Weekly blog, 5 August 2018)

    Posted on August 5, 2018
    A blog by Catherine Leonard, Secretary-General

    This week, we have been looking more closely at the INNOCASTLE activity schedule.  INTO/National Trust’s role is as a knowledge partner.   Which means that we will share our expertise and experience in all aspects of heritage management.  INTO/NT will also lead the learning activities, such as the study visits and peer reviews.

    July/August is a terrible time to do anything as everyone is on holiday, but we are making progress!

    What is INNOCASTLE?

    The aim of Interreg Europe is to help European regions in the drafting and implementation of regional policies and programmes.  It does this through exchanges of experience, knowledge and good practices amongst relevant stakeholders in different European regions

    Our project is called INNOCASTLE (or INNOvating policy instruments for the preservation, transformation and exploitation of historic CASTLEs, manors and estates).

    Mostly located in rural and remote areas, historic castles, manors and estates (HCME) have the potential to stimulate rural development and innovation. However, this requires a shift of paradigm in governance and support.

    By developing new policy instruments to unlock these assets, HCME could act as drivers for job creation, better education, improving life quality and reducing social inequalities.

    What does that mean in practice?

    The interregional learning is divided into three main activities.  Firstly, a joint baseline survey on existing policies and practices. Secondly, study visits to each of the partner organisations, which will also include a themed seminar and opportunity for peer review. Finally the development of regional action plans to improve particular policy instruments, using the data collected.

    Our role is to provide the methodology for the organisational learning.   Thus we will develop formats for the peer review, the participant feedback survey, the learning reports and the video documentation.  We will also provide valuable expertise.

    Steering Group meeting in Gelderland, June 2018

    Anticipated results

    INNOCASTLE seeks to demonstrate the importance of partnership in the sustainable revitalisation and future-proofing of heritage sites.   It will alert policy makers to the need for effective funding to enable heritage sites to become self-sufficient.  INNOCASTLE will also highlight our shared European identity.

    The project will use interregional cooperation to develop new policies for heritage across four regions (Gelderland, Extremadura, Flanders and Romania).  Each has a different emphasis but each will work towards improving the long-term sustainable development of HCME through 3 main perspectives.

    Firstly, INNOCASTLE aims to improve governance and better integrate landscape and nature into policy instruments.  The second aim is structural change such as more efficient funding systems and programmes.  Furthermore, INNOCASTLE will develop better ways of attracting and working with private funders.  And lastly, INNOCASTLE will stimulate new projects focussing on the promotion, visibility and building of linkages between HCME.

    What’s next?

    We will work on the methodology over the summer.  The project kicks off with the first study visit and thematic seminar in Romania in October.  We have been asked to provide experts in ruin management and policy development.

    In February 2019, a second study visit will take place in Gelderland.  We will bring experts in volunteering.   And then in June next year, we will host the partners in the UK.

    Activity continues for 4 ½ years although much of this will be the implementation and evaluation of the action plans, which we will be less involved in.

    Why is INNOCASTLE important?

    It is an honour to have been approached by the INNOCASTLE partners to provide our expertise for this project.   I’m delighted to be taking part and hope to gain a lot of personal learning from the experience, as well as organisational learning.   And showcasing the National Trust approach at the European level reinforces INTO’s priorities of family, growth and voice.   Firstly, Europe is by far INTO’s largest regional group and INNOCASTLE will strengthen the INTO Europe family. 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 to articulate our INTO voice.

    I’m greatly looking forward to the first study visit in Romania in October and will report back then!

    Further reading

    My earlier blog about INNOCASTLE is here.

    More information about INNOCASTLE can be found here.

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