Celebrate the 18th of April,
International Day for Monuments and Sites 2001
Save Our Historic Villages
The motto of the International Day for Monuments and Sites on 18 April 2001 is "Save Our Historic Villages". Historic villages world-wide and the corresponding building traditions are threatened to disappear. The extent of this threat has already been illustrated by several reports in ICOMOS' first World Report on monuments and sites in danger (Heritage @ Risk). In connection with the annual Heritage @ Risk report ICOMOS (Heritage@Risk)will therefore continue to use the opportunity of coming International Days for Monuments and Sites to point out certain types or groups of particularly endangered monuments, sites and cultural landscapes.
The International Day for Monuments and Sites, initiated by ICOMOS, with the support of UNESCO, in 1982, is being organised in many countries of the world. It is, however, less known in Europe where the European Heritage Days, an "open monument day" usually held on the second Sunday in September, has been a tremendous success.
Traditional rural architecture, whose huge diversity is determined by locally available building materials and centuries-old craftsmen's traditions, has developed in ideal adaptation to the conditions of the countryside and climate as well as in accordance with what we call today "sustainable development". Starting with the drastic social and economic changes of the past decades there are many reasons why villages are being abandoned and no longer maintained andwhy their architecture is increasingly being replaced world-wide by the usual structures of reinforced concrete and prefabricated materials. Besides, historic villages in most countries are neither documented nor protected. If we want to avoid that future generations will only get an idea of the historic rural architecture of their region by visiting open-air museums we must try to help save this unique heritage in its original setting.
National Committees of ICOMOS that wish to participate in this campaign on the occasion of the International Day for Monuments and Sites 2001 are asked to contribute to the motto "Save Our Historic Villages" by pointing out specific problems of endangered rural architecture in their countries.
The origin of the International Day for Monuments and Sites
Ideas on how to celebrate it !
On 18 April 1982 on the occasion of a symposium organised by ICOMOS Tunisia, which coincided with a meeting of the Bureau in Hammamet, the holding of a International Day for Monuments and Sitesto be celebrated simultaneously throughout the world was suggested. This project was approved by the Executive Committee who provided practical suggestions to the National Committeeson how to organise this day. Last but not least, the idea was also approved by the UNESCO General Conference.
Since then, it must be said that in Europe this event has, to some extent, been supplantedby the European Heritage Days, celebrated in September each year under the auspices of the Council of Europe. Nevertheless, several ICOMOSNational and International Committees continue to organise special events on the 18 April.
Each Committee is free to chose the theme(s) it finds most relevant to highlight on this Day.Some chose to draw attention to the triennial-theme established by the General Assembly, at present "the intangible dimension of the cultural heritage" (see the articles published in ICOMOS News or the ICOMOS web site).As you can see in his message above,the ICOMOS President, Michael Petzet, proposes that ICOMOS uses the 18th of April for all Committees to jointly draw attention to a particularly endangered type of cultural heritage, in conjunction with the annual Heritage@Risk report. This year he suggests to put the spotlight on the historic villages that are at risk world-wide.
Below are some suggestions of activities which can be organised nationally to mark this event :
- visits to monuments and sites, and restoration works, possibly with free admission;
- articles in newspapers and magazines, as well as television and radio broadcasts;
- hanging banners in town squares or principal traffic arteries calling attention to the day and the preservation of cultural heritage;
- inviting local and foreign experts and personalities for conferences and interviews;
- organising discussions in cultural-centres, city halls, and other public spaces.
- exhibitions (photos, paintings, etc.)
- publication of books, post-cards, stamps, posters
- awarding prizes to organisations or persons who have made an outstanding contribution to the conservation and promotion of cultural heritage or produced an excellent publication on the subject.
- inaugurate a recently restored monument;
- special awareness raising activities amongst school children and youth.
- promotion of "twinning" opportunities between various National Committees, defining areas for cooperation; exchange of speakers; organisation of meetings and seminars, or the editing of joint publications.
- a Scientific Committee could be invited to a country to debate around the chosen theme.
The essential thing is to mark this day so that it becomes not only a Day to celebrate your national heritage, but also a day of international solidarity in favour of the safeguarding of heritage world-wide.
If like the Moroccan, Hungarian, Costa Rican, Argentine, and others Committees, you are organising meetings, workshops, or other activities to mark the International Day for Monuments and Sites on 18 April, please inform the International Secretariat of such activities and the chosen theme, by sending any documents and press clippings. Information on the 18th of April is being published in the March ICOMOS News and we look forward to mentioning a selection of National Committee activities in the July/August issue. Also do not hesitate to send in any suggestions or comments you may have on the principle of this day and ways to celebrate it.
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