Crafts and cultural heritage conservation skills
- Parliamentary Assembly
adopted by the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of
the Assembly, on 28 November 2008 (see Doc. 11761, report of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education,
rapporteur: Baroness Hooper). See also Resolution 1638 (2008).
1. Conservation of cultural heritage
depends on a wide variety of skills. These range from basic traditional and
contemporary construction techniques to scientific analysis and
project management. These different skills must be identified, personnel
trained and the whole team organised to work together in planning
and executing conservation projects.
2. Essential for the success of such conservation projects is
assurance of support in terms of funding and interest. This is necessary
at all stages, including follow-up and proper provision for maintenance.
3. The skills involved in conservation can be very specialised
and the materials, such as stone from specific quarries, seasoned
timber, thatch or slate, difficult to procure. Much can be gained
from European level co-operation in terms of expertise and material
and the pooling of knowledge and know-how.
4. Conservation has been threatened by the disappearance of appropriate
skilled labour or of understanding of the use of traditional materials
such as lime. Increasing recognition of the value of manual skills
is therefore to be welcomed. The integration of manual with intellectual
aspects of conservation should be encouraged in all training courses.
In line with its Recommendation
on the promotion of art history in Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly
believes that architects and planners should be aware of traditional
skills, techniques and materials and take account of them in restoration
6. This should be an exciting process, attracting younger and
more dynamic people, and with better regard to gender balance, but
also involving the experience and interest of older generations.
It is part of the living process of conservation and appreciation
that enables our heritage to survive in a meaningful manner. It applies
to the built heritage of buildings and bridges, of gardens and landscapes,
to the movable heritage of paintings, sculpture, musical instruments
and books, and to the moving heritage of land vehicles, boats and aircraft.
7. The Assembly underlines the importance conservation projects
can have for the local and regional crafts industry and economy.
8. Sustainability and energy efficiency have to be added as new
factors in conservation. 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.
9. The Assembly is pleased to have been associated with the setting
up in Venice in 1977 of a European centre for the training of craftsmen
in conservation of the architectural heritage and has followed with
interest, with concern and now with renewed enthusiasm the development
of this pilot project. It calls on the Committee of Ministers to
give Council of Europe recognition to the new European centre for
heritage crafts and professions in Thiene (Italy), and foster the
development of other international initiatives such as the training centre
for the rehabilitation of the architectural heritage in Avignon
(France), the training centre for heritage skills in Görlitz (Germany)
or the international built heritage conservation centre in Bontida
10. The Assembly was also involved in the creation in 1987 of
the European Foundation for Heritage Skills, the aim of which was
to embrace all heritage skills. It calls on the Secretary General
of the Council of Europe to ensure clarification of the legal status
of this institution with a view to enabling it to pursue the aim
of developing a European network on heritage skills and providing
it with practical and visible information in addition to the Council
of Europe databases on the cultural policies of member states known
as Herein and the Compendium.
11. The Assembly would wish to give craftsmen and professionals
information to allow them to judge the merits of particular products
and materials and to pierce the arcane secrets of the ancient guilds.
Public-private co-operation is important to ensure that conservation
is carried out to the best possible standards and the market must
be opened up. The private sector, including owners interested in
managing or doing work themselves, should not be excluded from this
partnership. The Committee of Ministers should encourage an open
and informed debate on conservation principles and practice, techniques
and products and on how to assess them.
12. The Assembly would also like to see further concerted action
between government, private and voluntary sectors in developing
the skills and expertise necessary for heritage conservation, including maintenance
and operation. It welcomed the setting up in 1992 of the European
Association of Architectural Heritage Restoration Firms (AEERPA),
but calls for much wider involvement of responsible restoration companies
and for the promotion, in particular, of their establishment and
development in central and eastern Europe.
13. Finally, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers
initiate a full survey of national conservation skills provision
in conjunction with the European Union, with the International Centre
for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property
(ICCROM) and other specialised agencies and professional bodies,
as also with NGOs, with a view to the development of a Europe-wide
strategy for the concerted management of heritage conservation involving
craftsmen, architects and planners and including recognition of