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  • Hay Festival and Cultural Diversity (Weekly blog, 19 May 2019)

    Posted on May 19, 2019
    A blog by Catherine Leonard, Secretary-General

    Our event at the Hay Festival is in two weeks’ time!    On Thursday 30 May, our colleagues and collaborators from across Europe will join INTO Trustee, Justin Albert on stage.  The subject under discussion is: National identity and the idea of European unity.


    The panel features Dr Irena Edwards, Chairman of the Czech National Trust, Joep de Roo of our Innocastle project and Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary-General of Europa Nostra.  As we all gear up for the European elections next week (with some unease), it’s a topical subject.  And the event is sold out!

    The INTO Europe group at our 2017 Conference


    On 21st May, we celebrate World Day for Cultural Diversity.   Therefore we will be trailing some of the outcomes of the conference, which had a big focus on diversity.   Keep an eye on our new Instagram feed on Tuesday #intoheritage.  (And check out my blog on the subject last year.)

    Our heritage experts in Hay will discuss questions of local loyalties in relation to the cosmopolitan ideal of world citizenship.  How do we maintain and celebrate national distinctiveness in the face of globalisation?  What role can cultural heritage play as we learn to understand each other and accept diversity?   Can heritage help us bridge the gaps, both at home and abroad?  Similarly, what does this all mean for how Europeans relate to Britain today?

    INTO partners and friends make the trip to Hay

    We will use the opportunity to talk about our Interreg Europe project.  Joep de Roo will draw on his experience working on Innocastle and the adaptive reuse project, OpenHeritage.  We have also invited our colleagues from Europa Nostra.  Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović leads this pan-European federation that protects and celebrates Europe’s cultural and natural heritage.  She will be able to draw on a vast experience of heritage matters across the European stage.  Lastly, we have Irena Edwards of INTO and the Czech National Trust.  Irena, a Czech who has lived most of her working life in the UK, will showcase an organisation with strong ties to the UK.

    It promises to be an interesting conversation.   Moreover it demonstrates that we will continue to work with our friends, whatever happens to Brexit …

    Climbing the Y of Hay at the Festival last year

    Back in Hay

    I went to the Hay Festival for the first time ever last year with our daughter Connie.  She absolutely loved it!  I had managed to get us tickets to hear Lauren Child, the Children’s Laureate speak.  Connie absolutely loves Ruby Redfort (and so do I, if I’m honest).  Lauren Child was a complete inspiration as we both hoped she would be.   She also signed Connie’s copy of ‘Feel the Fear’!

    Furthermore, just pottering around the Festival was such a joy.  We did a workshop on character development, we made garlands, we soaked up the atmosphere.   I’m hoping this year will be just as thought-provoking.   I will be dragging the children along too and have just booked us tickets to hear Chris Ryan talk about his Special Forces Cadets series.   And John Boyne on his new book.  (Connie and I have just finished ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’.)  Can’t wait!

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