Paris: Council of Europe. The future of heritage
Andy was in Paris on 25th May at the Council of Europe’s grand offices giving MPs an update on the report that he is drafting for the Council of Europe on ‘The value of cultural heritage in a democratic culture’.
A month ago Andy participated in a session at the Houses of Parliament, and at Tate Modern, where European MPs were presented with expert evidence on the topic: especially the role of heritage in urban regeneration. Andy is now collating this evidence, and completing the draft of the report which will be discussed by the CoE and finalised at a further meeting in Paris in the autumn.
One of the themes in the document is to offer a different re-engagement with heritage and democracy, drawing upon the diverse ‘cultural roots and routes’ of populations in a cosmopolitan and a post-Colonial world; and to create sustainable livelihoods for the youth. The central idea being that ‘today’s culture is tomorrow’s heritage’ and supporting culture in all its diversity involves making it a sustainable resource (if future generations are to inherit our culture/s). Obviously there are big questions about institutions that rest upon a history of Colonial plunder. Whose heritage, and which heritages get preserved (or lost), and where are they kept? Is it simply artefacts, what about intangible and tacit knowledges. Lots of debates here! Andy is exploring the challenge of sustaining cultures and practices in situ; and, that heritage is constantly changing.
On his way back to the Eurostar Andy was able to spend some time by the Canal St Martin and in Belleville and check out developments in the local art scene; then back via the Gard du Nord, close by is a key spot for the West African music scene which Andy did some work on many years ago.
The Council of Europe just awarded the London Design Museum as European Museum of the Year. This is a good example of a museum , that demonstrates how museums can be pourous and open, and concerned with keeping (modern) crafts and design alive (not in an airless showcase) so that it can be a resource for the future.