The proceedings of the SoPHIA Stakeholders’ Virtual Conference: Cultural Heritage – Rethinking Impact Assessments held last April 21 and 22, have been released. The Conference gathered over 240 participants from 50 countries, mainly from Europe but also from beyond, including SoPHIA´s community of practice.
The keynote speech, delivered by Pier Luigi Sacco from IULM University Milan and Sr. Advisor of the OECD Venice Office, and Ana Schoebel, former Officer at the Spanish Ministry of Culture, broached current CH-related topics that have come to the forefront also because of the pandemic, mainly digitization processes and opportunities to foster technological and social innovation.
The aim of the Conference was, on the one hand, to collectively reflect on pressing issues for cultural heritage (CH), that have proven to be relevant to the twelve cases of interventions analysed in the framework of the SoPHIA project when testing its impact assessment draft model. During the first day, representatives from the case studies and invited guests discussed with the audience main challenges and opportunities that have been encountered. Panel discussions were organized around culture and sustainability, education and CH, public spaces and CH, assessment of European Capitals of Culture, dissonant heritage within European CH narratives, over-tourism and the city. As presented in the proceedings, challenges and opportunities came along with practical examples, and key priorities per topic were identified.
The second day was closed to members of the Advisory Board and stakeholders and focused directly on the findings of the SoPHIA case studies and the discussion of the impact assessment draft model. The aim was to hold detailed discussions on cross-cutting issues and counter-effects of the impact of CH interventions. The virtual World Cafés centered on six key topics that have been highlighted as capturing the overarching discrepancies between the social, economic, environmental and cultural impacts of CH: Protection, Social Capital and Knowledge in CH, Quality of Life and Infrastructure, Processes of CH Assessment, Sense of Place and Prosperity and Profiting.
The inputs collected through this collective reflection will be considered towards the completion of the CH impact assessment model and to feed further discussions for the policy briefs, recommendations and guidelines that will be submitted to the European Commission. We thank all participants to SoPHIA´s Stakeholders Virtual Conference for their time and valuable contributions.