C Explanatory memorandum
by Baroness Hooper, rapporteur
The report is an attempt to
identify practical ways in which the Council of Europe can help
promote the skills necessary for conservation of physical cultural
heritage. Its origin lies in a motion relating to old and traditional
crafts to which due consideration will be given. That is however
a rather broad and open-ended field. I have chosen to select the
part of it which relates and concludes the series of reports I have
presented relating to the public-private interface with regard to
conservation (see Doc. 9913
on tax and Doc
on private management) and on which the Council of Europe
has over the years established certain bench-marks which I believe
should be maintained.
2. In the preparation of this report I have profited from the
longstanding acquis of the Council of Europe, from first hand experience
of the craftsmanship centres in Venice and Thiene and from reactions
from a great many NGOs consulted with the assistance of Europa Nostra.
These are listed in the appendix and the written submissions are
available from the secretariat. I have included in the report certain
examples of good practice that have been drawn to my attention.
I hope that one result of this report will be to attract more to
make themselves known.
2 Old and traditional crafts
The subject of old and traditional
crafts was recently examined by a group of students from the Faculty of
Law of Belgrade University, developed into a formal draft proposal
for a European Convention and first presented to the Committee on
Culture, Science and Education in November 2005. This original proposal
was subsequently developed in a paper by Branko Ruzic in May 2006
and was the basis of a motion for a recommendation presented by
Mr Aligrudic and others in April 2007 (Doc 11268
). It has also been examined by the competent secretariat
on the governmental side of the Council of Europe which reported
to the committee in January 2006 that in the secretariat’s view
a specific convention on crafts was not necessary; the procedure
for preparing a convention was very complicated and there were already
several instruments on heritage to which one could refer to develop
support for know-how and crafts; moreover on the level of European
co-operation, exchanges could be made in the field by means of the
Herein network on the cultural heritage.
4. The initiative of the Serb students is to be commended and
also the persistence of their director of studies, Branko Rakic.
It led to a most remarkable exhibition of traditional craft work
in the Council of Europe building in Strasbourg in the course of
the recent 2008 June part-session. It reflects an enthusiasm of
the younger generation for the subject of craftsmanship that is
very much to be cherished. The draft convention is also a model
academic exercise in terms of legal and cultural analysis. Its idealism
is however not tempered by being based on multilateral negotiation
in real time between representatives of countries anxious to cut down
their involvement in new international agreements.
5. The lack of interest, indeed the outright opposition of certain
countries to the negotiation of the recent Council of Europe Framework
Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro,
2005) is a clear signal that binding legal instruments such as conventions
have however become a no-go area for the advancement of European
cultural co-operation. A more cynical observer could extend this
beyond the cultural field. But the point is effect, not legal formality
and we should be looking for the most effective way of making progress.
6. For this reason I would like to link the idea of promoting
old and traditional crafts to their relevance in practice and with
regard to economic sustainability and real political and financial
support. I would suggest that specific and targeted proposals be
worked out for the different crafts involved. Those best placed
for acting here are the professions themselves (the former guilds,
the trade federations and associations, the trade unions and specialist
national training groups). The field of crafts is very broad: it
can extend to traditional sports and to gastronomy. On the general
level the subject should perhaps best be treated as an aspect of cultural
diversity and sustainability and promoted for its own sake.
There is also much room for interesting socio-cultural analysis
of craftsmanship. André Delehedde reported to the Assembly on craftsmanship
in 1982 (Doc. 4938
and Res 782) and referred to a study of declining craft
trades in Europe by Gilbert Sommier. Richard Sennett provides a
more recent 2008 update on the craftsman. There are many fascinating
issues involved such as the distinction between manual labour and mental
skills, technique and art, homo laborans
or homo faber
. The situation has evolved
over time but the basic issues remain as identified in the past
with the differing attitudes of Plato and Aristotle and the competing social
and commercial roles of the guilds.
8. The activity of the Prince of Wales’ School of Traditional
Arts in London can be singled out in this context.
9. To conclude this section: old and traditional crafts may be
interesting for academic, artistic and touristic reasons; their
diversity should be recorded; their survival however depends on
their relevance and on their viability, on the active support of
non-governmental organisations and not on governmental intervention.
This being said however, it is important that government or EU regulation
does not work against the survival of crafts and skills.
3 Crafts and skills for cultural heritage
10. This field is not new to the
Council of Europe or to the Assembly. It is a field in which the
Council of Europe has made a significant practical contribution
and which it should continue to pursue. As stated at the outset,
I am dealing with physical heritage. This extends from constructions
such as buildings and bridges, gardens and landscapes, to the moveable
heritage (such as paintings, sculpture, bells and musical instruments and
books) and the moving heritage (land vehicles, ships and aircraft).
A number of major conferences have been held by the Council
of Europe on cultural heritage conservation skills and crafts..
The most relevant are:
on crafts and craftsmanship, Fulda, June 1980;
- European Symposia of Architectural Heritage Restoration
Firms, Strasbourg, June 1991 and June 1998;
- Colloquy on the promotion of art history in Europe, Venice,
The subject has also frequently been raised at specialised
The most relevant texts to
have emerged are as follows:
European Charter of the Architectural Heritage and the Amsterdam
- Assembly Rec. 849 (1978) on Pro Venetia Viva and the European
Centre for the training of craftsmen (Doc 4190 report by Olaf Schwencke);
- Assembly Res. 782 (1982) on craftsmanship (Doc. 4938 report by André Delehedde – this summarises the work
on the subject in the Council of Europe from 1965);
- Assembly Rec. 1621 (2003) on the promotion of art history
in Europe (Doc. 9881 report by Eddie O’Hara with a section on the training
of professional conservation workers);
- Committee of Ministers Rec. (80) 16 on the training of
architects, town planners, civil engineers and landscape designers;
- Committee of Ministers Rec. (81) 13 on action in aid of
declining craft trades in the context of craft activity;
- Committee of Ministers Rec. (86) 15 on the promotion of
craft trades involved in the conservation of the architectural heritage.
And see also the European Landscape Convention (2000) Art
6 and the Faro Convention (2005) Art 13.
13. Of rather greater importance
however is the practical action in terms of training and of information.
The Assembly has been very much involved in this action.
14. The creation in Venice in 1977 of the European Centre for
the training of craftsmen in conservation of the architectural heritage
was one of the most practical measures the Council of Europe has
ever taken. With Assembly pressure and the personal involvement
of the Deputy Secretary General of the time, Count Sforza, this
centre was set up as an operational agency of the European Foundation
Pro Venetia Viva first in San Pasquale. It moved subsequently to
the Island of San Servolo with the support of the Province of Venice
and became an active member of the Private Organisations for the
Safeguarding of Venice. It has been visited on several occasions
by our cultural committee and was in 2002 the venue for our conference
on art history. From the beginning to 1994 the Centre was officially
recognised by the Council of Europe and The President of the Assembly
was ex officio President of the Governing Board of the Pro Venetia
Viva Foundation. The running of the Centre then passed into Italian
hands. The Centre’s presence on San Servolo attracted attention
but also criticism from the authorities. As the development of the
island progressed, its fate became a pawn in local politics. It
was not as well managed as it might have been. It was finally closed
down and its equipment and records, including masterpieces by students,
removed under cloak of darkness in 2007.
15. Like a phoenix, the spirit of this centre has now resurfaced
in the Villa Fabris in Thiene where it is generously supported by
the Confartigianato Association of Vicenza. I visited the new centre
in April 2008 and was very much impressed by the facilities, the
cultural context of Palladian and vernacular architecture and the entrepreneurial
spirit of its new backers. I believe that the Committee of Ministers
should renew Council of Europe recognition of this new European
Centre in Thiene in support of what it is doing to promote conservation policies
16. The initial idea of saving Venice quickly gave way to the
very more general one of promoting conservation skills on all levels.
The essence of the courses given in Venice and now in Thiene is
that they are multilingual (currently English, French, German and
Italian), emphasise the team approach to on-site management of conservation
(from art-historian and architect to artisan) and work on real projects
in the region. Our support for this principle should be reasserted.
Classes started in Thiene in 2007; the 2008 programme includes intensive
courses from February throughout the year and a longer 3-month course
in architectural heritage conservation from April to July. The contributions
of Sir Bernard Fielden and Wolf Elbert should be mentioned in this
17. Other conservation training centres of course exist. Much
work is currently proceeding on the national level. In 1995 the
Council of Europe published a directory of some 190 establishments
in a European Directory of training centres in heritage skills and
crafts. Most of these were national centres. Relatively few were European
or international and this remains the case. In addition to the Council
of Europe’s contribution, I should certainly mention the International
Centre for the Study of the Preservation and restoration of Cultural
Property (ICCROM), a governmental organisation based in Rome which
has been active in this field since 1965 and is currently offering
its second course on conservation of built heritage (March-April
2009) and its 16th course on stone conservation
(April-July 2009). The number of students participating in these
international courses is inevitably very limited. Further centres
with international reach that have been drawn to my attention are
the training centre for heritage skills in Görlitz (Germany), the
Enkhuizen Nautical College (Netherlands) and the international built
heritage conservation centre in Bontida (Romania).
18. Thinking on conservation is developing. For example more emphasis
is now placed on regular maintenance than on root and branch restoration.
New materials and techniques are being developed and the old ones
are becoming better understood. Studies of how buildings were conceived
and constructed is seen as relevant for their present-day conservation:
this point was underlined to me by Guido Beltramini, Director of the
International Architecture Study Centre Andrea Palladio in Vicenza.
And new uses call for new solutions.
19. As stated recently by Donald Hankey, President of Icomos UK,
broader challenges are now to be faced in conservation, particularly
in the context of sustainability, and the social and economic benefits
of investment in heritage skills, including supporting disadvantaged
local communities and nurturing SMEs to provide sustainable employment
for local people.
20. Attention should also be paid to maintaining traditional skills
in operating heritage as well as restoring it: a point made by European
21. In all of this there is a real need for training and more
generally for the effective exchange of information. On-line information
on conservation techniques and recommended products would be helpful.
But this can touch on highly controversial issues – professionals
argue in depth over plastic versus wooden windows, lime-based rendering
or silicone paints. It is also commercially sensitive – preference
of one product over another for the same purpose. But I believe
it should be tackled and this information made available on the
European level. The Council of Europe is it is true developing tools
for information on cultural policy including heritage. The relevant
sites are Herein and Compendium. This information is largely of
an administrative nature and concerns policy more than practice.
It is not relevant as yet to the rather more practical field covered
by this report.
22. The question of standard procedures and products is controversial.
There is reasonable suspicion of the imposition of products that
may not have been tested or are promoted for purely commercial reasons.
The Council of Europe should encourage an open and informed debate,
aimed at enabling assessment rather than at imposing norms. It should
foster European exchange of know-how and personnel, thus reviving
one of the most effective traditions in architectural and artistic
creativity on the continent. I am assured that this is a process
already currently undertaken by the RIBA (Royal Institute of British
Architects) and IHBC (Institute of Historic Building Conservation,
UK). We need a common approach at European level.
23. Fire and safety regulations are rather more controversial,
for example requirements for emergency exits and disabled access
in historic buildings or deck heights in traditional sailing ships.
Workshops in these areas could be valuable, especially if carried
out by EU bodies responsible for introducing the regulations.
24. The involvement of the private sector is clearly relevant.
The Assembly opened the door to this with the organisation of two
conferences with representatives of restoration firms in 1991 and
1998. A European association was set up (European Association of
Architectural Heritage Restoration Firms, AEERPA): it has sections
however in only nine European countries. Contact is still maintained,
for example through Council of Europe DG IV projects in South Eastern
Europe. Relations with certain individuals and with the EU need
to be clarified. The principle of co-operation with the private
sector is however valid. Greater emphasis should be placed on the
extension of expertise and guidance for the private heritage companies
operating in Central and Eastern Europe or the South Caucasus rather
than in finding contracts for West-European firms in these regions.
Again this is a matter for the private sector. The role of the state
is to give encouragement by facilitating capacity building.
25. The role of the NGOs is important both in channelling the
enthusiasm of volunteers and in spreading the degree of know-how.
Europa Nostra has recognised this sector and at its meeting in Bergen
in 2005 drew attention to the degree of self-help in conservation
in Norway (dugnod). Its annual
awards include a category for education, training and awareness
26. The specific situation of owners of historic property interested
in doing work themselves should not be overlooked. Whether as artisan
or as manager private owners have a direct part to play and can
represent a considerable extension to the financial and other resources
available for conservation. It is important that their involvement
is as correct as possible to principles of conservation.
4 More international co-operation is
27. One way is to encourage broader
networking of heritage skills. The European Foundation “Pro Venetia Viva”
set up the Venice Centre as a pilot project initially limited to
craftsmanship in architecture conservation. The initiative was taken
in 1995 to extend the scope of Pro Venetia Viva into a European
network to embrace all heritage skills, known officially as the
“Venetia Foundation – European Foundation for Heritage Skills” (referred
to by its French acronym FEMP). Subsequently in November 1998 a
“FEMP Association” was registered in Strasbourg (because EU funding
required a seat in a EU country which the original PVV Foundation
could not attract as it was Swiss-based). It undertook a number
of activities which proved its value in particular as a unique vehicle
for attracting EU funding (for example for the major Herein project)
but also as a means of spreading information about heritage skills.
I became President of FEMP in March 1998 and remain in that capacity
as no action has been taken subsequent to the decision of the then
Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer to withdraw
Council of Europe funding and personnel at the end of 2001. This decision
was taken despite interventions from the Assembly and a direct proposal
from the Portoroz specialised ministerial conference that FEMP be
“formally placed under the auspices of the Council of Europe”. A
move must be made to resolve the situation – either to relaunch
action or to close down. Personally I should like to revive this
Foundation. I feel it is needed. But I need support in financial
and political terms.
28. Another is a full and on-going survey of conservation skills
provision. This could be conducted by the Council of Europe in conjunction
with the EU, with ICCROM and other specialised agencies and professional bodies
such as RIBA or IHBC in the UK, and NGOs such as REMPART in France,
with a view to the development of a Europe-wide strategy for the
concerted management of heritage conservation. This should include
the problem of recognition of professional qualifications for which
the recently launched European Qualifications Framework (2008) suggests
a practical approach. The creation in April this year of the Heritage Skills
Task Force in the UK should also be given support.
29. The Council of Europe has the
possibility of coordinating its role in education, training and
employment with its traditional pre-eminence in te field of cultural
heritage. Reasserting its role in the heritage field could be achieved
by networking skills for heritage conservation in partnership with
the private sector. It should take advantage of the relocation of
the conservation centre in Thiene to launch this activity. It should
also promote the creation of other centres in particular in central
and eastern Europe. It should initiate a full and on-going review
of conservation skills provision. The role of the non-governmental
sector is vital and full encouragement should be given to the bodies
working in this field.