Work on the so-called HOMEE card

How to organize mega events to fully use their development potential and at the same time protect the heritage of our ancestors? On April 3, 2020, an international workshop was held as part of the HOMEE project, of which the ICC is one of the partners. The meeting of almost twenty experts, representing various milieus and having extensive experience in the field of cultural heritage, was to take place in Paphos, Cyprus, but due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemics, the planned discussion took place virtually. The ICC research team was represented by: Prof. Jacek Purchla, Dr. Joanna Sanetra-Szeliga, Anna Kozioł and Piotr Knaś.

Expert discussions were devoted to the so-called  HOMEE Charter (HOMEE Charter), which is to be a set of post-project recommendations addressed mainly to organisers of mega-events (the World Exhibitions (EXPO), the Olympic Games and the European Capitals of Culture). The conclusions of the case studies show that the organisation of such events in a historic city is not only an opportunity to introduce positive changes, but also a potential threat to existing heritage resources.

- Cultural heritage is a huge potential of cities, which has an impact on the quality of life, creativity and innovation and can become a catalyst for development - emphasised Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, in a lecture opening the virtual meeting of the HOMEE project.

How to inspire development and protect cities' heritage? One of the threats mentioned during the workshop was the issue of tourism development, which can be both a positive and negative result of the mega-event. Increasing the number of visitors raises the city's prestige, economic development (hospitality and gastronomy sectors, guide services, selling souvenirs, etc.), increases the sense of pride among residents, raises awareness of the importance of cultural heritage, positively stimulates social and intercultural dialogue. However, there is the problem of simplifying the  cultural heritage narration ("Disneyfication") and the disappearance of authenticity, as well as "trampling" of heritage sites as a consequence of the development of mass tourism.

Experts participating in the workshop analysed, among others issues, the need to predict long-term effects of mega-events at the time of their preparation. According to specialists, the experts involved in the project should precisely define the widest possible use of heritage potential in the process of concept creation, so as to avoid its damage and provide it with adequate protection. The bidding time is an important period in which one should consider available cultural resources and think about the way to translate this extremely diverse wealth into the long-term development of the city, noticeable by the residents themselves.

The work on the HOMEE Charter, annexed by an extended argumentation on individual recommendations along with examples, will last throughout 2020 and will be widely consulted.

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