The 17th Annual Meeting of the South-East European Experts Network on Intangible Cultural Heritage, organized by the Ministry of Culture in cooperation with UNESCO - Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe and the Regional Center for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage based in Sofia, and with the support of the Center for Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Ethnographic Museum, took place on June 22nd-23rd in Belgrade.
At the beginning of the two-day meeting, Danijela Vanušić, Assistant Minister of Culture for the Protection of Cultural Heritage and Digitalization, addressed the participants, emphasizing the importance of cooperation of experts from the countries of the region, who use their own experiences in implementation of the Convention and development of systems for safeguarding of living heritage in order to find answers to many questions which are presented to institutions, experts, holders and local communities regarding the safeguarding of living heritage. Reminding the participants that, after the ratification of the Convention in 2010, Serbia formed a network for the safeguarding of this segment of heritage, in which the Center for Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Ethnographic Museum is the central professional body in charge of its implementation, she pointed out that the Law on Cultural Heritage of 2021 also systematically regulates the field of safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in the Republic of Serbia. The importance of the South-East European Experts Network on Intangible Cultural Heritage was pointed out by Matteo Rosati, speaking on behalf of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, based in Venice, under whose auspices the Network started operating in 2007. Irena Todorova, director of the Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe, based in Sofia, welcomed the attending participants via live online speech and wished them a new successful meeting of the Network.
The central theme of the XVII annual meeting of the South-East European Experts Network on Intangible Cultural Heritage was reflecting on integration of intangible cultural heritage into technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and higher education, which is at the same time a continuation of the discussion on the connection between the intangible cultural heritage and formal and informal education, which started at the 16th meeting of the Network in Sofia in 2022. The participants in the meeting, representatives of the member states of the Network, presented within three sessions: Integrating ICH into technical and vocational education and training, Intangible cultural heritage in higher education and Latest achievements of the Convention.
During the first session, Susanne Schnűttgen, Chief of Unit in the Capacity Building and Heritage Policy within the UNESCO Unit for Living Heritage, presented the concept of the program that UNESCO developed through inter-sectoral cooperation with the aim of creating necessary preconditions for the broadest possible integration of learning about living heritage into the technical and professional education and training. Practical examples of this program, as well as the possibilities of its integration into existing systems, were presented in the opening presentation by Madlen Serban, Secretary General at National Commission of Romania for UNESCO (through live online presentation). Different modalities were highlighted within the presentations by the representatives of the participating countries, where the intangible cultural heritage was recognized within the existing programs of technical and professional education. In addition, the participants of the meeting visited Manak’s House - an organizational unit of the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, where they were introduced to the program of workshops and training in the domain of traditional crafts, which has been successfully implemented for decades and adapted for participants of different age groups and professional profiles.
Dr. Ahmet Erman Aral, chairman of the UNESCO Chair on Intangible Cultural Heritage, from Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University, provided an introductory presentation within the second session dedicated to higher education, with an overview of presence of education on intangible cultural heritage at universities and faculties in various European countries. Presenting the activities of the Department of Ethnology and Anthropology at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Belgrade on the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, Assistant Professor Dr. Jelena Ćuković pointed out that the concept of intangible cultural heritage, in addition to the regular school curriculum and student practice, is also an integral part of special programs aimed at extracurricular and optional activities of this Department, all with the same goal of stimulating students' interest in researching this field of cultural heritage, working with local communities and strengthening inter-sectoral cooperation in the field of cultural heritage, education and science.
The third session of this meeting was also an opportunity for the participants to reflect upon the progress achieved in the implementation of the 2003 Convention, the established priorities at the national and regional levels, as well as to present the activities planned in order to mark this year's jubilee - 20 years since the adoption of the Convention.
Photo: Ivana Masniković-Antić