‘Implementing the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage at the National Level’
Tirana, Albania – 14-18 September 2015
In the frames of UNESCO’s global strategy aiming to enhance national capacity for safeguarding of living heritage, the Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of Albania successfully organized and held in the period 14-18 September a capacity-building workshop dedicated to the national experts from Albania working in the field of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The workshop took place in the premises of the Ministry of Culture of Albania in a hall kindly provided by the hosts. The opening of the workshop, on September 14, was made by Ms. Zhulieta Harasani, Director General at General Directorate of Strategic Planning for Cultural Heritage and Diversity in the Ministry of Culture of Albania, by the two facilitators from the UNESCO’s network – Ms. Bortolotto and Mr. Vukov and by Ms. Iliyana Rousseva, the representative of the Regional Centre Sofia.
Mr. Vukov made a brief introduction on the substance of the seminar and main topics, as well as he presented the objectives of the workshop, based on the pilot project of UNESCO on needs assessment of Albania for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.
The first day of the seminar was entirely devoted to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003) and the UNESCO’s policies in the field. Ms. Bortolotto presented the main objectives and ideas in the Convention of 2003 as a parallel with other UNESCO Conventions in the field of culture, in particular the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972) and Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005). Mr. Vukov presented the basic terms, definitions and various role players in the implementation of the Convention 2003. Ms Bortolotto continued with a presentation on raising awareness of the need for safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage. The first day ended with the assignment of the participants related to the presentation of current practices for the popularization of intangible cultural heritage in Albania.
The second day of the workshop began with a discussion to consider local examples and measures for safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in the country. The work continued with a presentation of the lecturers on the identification of elements of intangible cultural heritage, practices for identifying and procedure for inclusion in the Register. Afterwards the session followed with examples from different countries in this area. The afternoon included a special sessions dedicated to the participation of communities and various stakeholders in the safeguarding practices of intangible cultural heritage, threats and risks to the elements of intangible cultural heritage in the contemporary world, the ways of dealing with these threats and risks and the connection between intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development.
On the third day a field trip in Rrëshen city, county Mirdite, was organized by the hosts. The observations included a visit to the craft house and learning about different practices in maintaining traditional knowledge and skills in the village, visit of the local ethnographic collection expositions representing the traditional culture of the region, a short concert of local performers of folk songs, a meeting with the Mayor of the city and visit to a family engaged in the production of traditional and ecologically clean foods. During the visit the participants had an opportunity to work in groups to discuss and systematize their observations on the different elements of intangible cultural heritage on its safeguarding and promotion, as well as the possibilities for involvement of the intangible cultural heritage in sustainable development.
Thursday began with sharing the observations, conducted during the visit of a field trip and discussion on the identification of intangible cultural heritage in this region at the local level. The discussion was followed by a presentation on the implementation of the Convention at the international level, as focusing on the preparation of nominations for the various lists of UNESCO. After the presentation was done a simulation exercise to prepare a nomination based on fieldwork observations from the previous day or on another element of intangible cultural heritage, which participants had the opportunity to observe in their practice. The afternoon continued with a group discussion on the prepared nominations and then the lecturers made the last presentation for the workshop related to the opportunities for international cooperation and assistance to individual countries in the implementation of the Convention. After the summary discussion, the day continued with the awarding of certificates to the participants in the presence of the Deputy Minister of Culture of the Republic of Albania, Mr. Zef Çuni.
On the last day was held a meeting with representatives from the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture of Albania, the topic of conversation was on evaluation of the needs of the country and in particular on recommendations for necessary actions in the implementation of the UNESCO Convention of 2003 at the national level, as well as the preparation of a strategic plan to work over the next three years.
The workshop was rated as very successful by the hosts and participants and there was expressed a confidence that this good practice for training, sharing of experience and capacity building in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage will continue in the future, the more it is a wonderful example cooperation of the region with the Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe under the auspices of UNESCO.