Innocastle kicked off at Hanul lui Manuc in Bucharest, Romania on the 2nd of October 2018, followed by a two-day study visit throughout Romania. A team of international experts and policy makers visited several manors in Ialomita, Prahova, Buzau and Dambovita counties to assess the situation in Romania and formulate advice and suggestions for improvement.
Romania has approximately 1000 castles and manors, of which 10% are in an advanced state of deterioration, according to a study by the ARCHÉ Association in 2015. Castles and manors have an enormous potential to become drivers for innovation and tourism, but this will not happen by itself. A shared vision, regional cooperation and political support is essential.
“The situation in Romania is critical, but it’s not too late” - declared one of the international participants.
The lead partner, the National Institute of Heritage in Romania has organised this event. All partners presented the situation in each partner region, the policy instruments addressed in the project and their expectations from the project Innocastle. A few quotes from the presentations regarding partners expectations out of the project are presented below:
- "It is very important for us to stimulate cooperation between various stakeholders in Romania through this project, to create innovative policy instruments that are adapted to local opportunities." - Raluca Bărbulescu - National Institute of Heritage, Romania.
- "We are interested in new visions on how to finance heritage and in ways to stimulate the financial autonomy of castles, manors and estates" - Bert de Roo - University College Ghent, Belgium.
- "We are interested in how we can better use castles, manors and estates as an asset in regional development for our region" - Paul Thissen - Province of Gelderland, the Netherlands
- "We wish to promote our region as a complete touristic destination. We have 332 castles in our region and wish to promote them as a whole" - Silvia Hernandez Muriel - Regional Government of Extremadura, Spain.
- "Being part of Innocastle is an opportunity to learn and share with European colleagues" - Catherine Leonard - National Trust, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Quality in restoration
The kick off conference was followed by a public debate on the theme of quality in restoration. The debate was organised by the National Institute of Heritage as part of a debate series within the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. Ștefan Bâlici, director of the National Institute of Heritage moderated the debate. Amongst the invited speakers were Emma Thompson (National Trust), Adrian Crăciunescu (ICOMOS) and Eugen Vaida (MONUMENTO Association).
After the conference, the partners visited several castles, manors and estates between 3 and 4 October. A thematic seminar was organised at one of the sites, approaching the themes of public-private partnerships and quality in restoration - two themes of interest for the Romanian partner in designing the action plan to improve the addressed policy instrument, the Regional Operational Programme 2014-2020, Investment Priority 5.1 - Conservation, protection, promotion and development of natural and cultural heritage.