Today, Dutch heritage organisation Heemschut launches a call to establish more direct contacts between endangered heritage advocacy organisations in Europe. Heemschut’s primary mission is to protect endangered heritage in the Netherlands. With this call, director Karel Loeff hopes to meet foreign heritage organisations with a desire to preserve threatened heritage. Interested organisations are invited to send an email to [email protected].
“There is no specific European umbrella platform for endangered heritage advocacy organisations”, Loeff mentions. ”Large platforms like Europa Nostra already exist. But we want to establish more direct connections between groups and civil societies across Europe that actively work to protect endangered heritage. We are very excited to meet them and support each other in our efforts to protect cultural heritage.”
Crossing the border
Heemschut was founded in 1911 and is one of the largest heritage advocacy groups in the Netherlands. It consists of more than 5000 members. ”Citizens contact us to report a case of endangered Dutch heritage”, Loeff explains. ”By consulting our committees and local experts, we decide how to take action. For example, we can apply for the protection of a heritage site or ask for help from politicians or the media.”
If heritage advocacy organisations in Europe want to support one another, they need to be able to communicate
Heemschut already looked across the border to protect heritage, as Loeff himself wrote an article on dying heritage in Belgium. ”However, if heritage advocacy organisations in Europe want to support one another, they need to be able to communicate”, he says. ”That’s the core message of our call, I think. We already have an extensive network in the Netherlands. But we want to connect with groups and civil societies across the border as well.”
Forming a solid collective for the protection of heritage could benefit all parties involved, Loeff believes. ”As you battle to save endangered heritage, the support from a foreign advocacy agency might prove crucial.”
No matter how small or big organisations are, Heemschut is excited to get to know them and their work
For example, Heemschut wrote a letter to condemn the knocking down of a university chapel in Lille, France. ”The resistance against the demolition was led by a concerned citizen. Later, she later founded the movement Urgence Patrimoine (Heritage in Distress). ”The organisation has now over 500 members”, says Loeff, illustrating the effect of unionising and supporting foreign heritage advocacy groups. ”No matter how small or big organisations are, Heemschut is excited to get to know them and their work.”
If you want to learn more about Heemschut’s work, you can check out their website.