Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

The project leader and the partners of HERMES

The interface with the project leader, the Foundation Weimar Classic, was not easy at first for all the other partners. For none of the German partners – Foundation Weimar Classic, Bauhaus University and Radio Lotte - were anywhere close to being the equivalent of a political authority. In terms of understanding the purpose of Interreg programmes funded by the European Union, there needs to be actively involved a body which can assume responsibility for the implementation of policy, in particular policy having to do with urban and regional development, and which the HERMES project tried to cover theoretically in work package 2 and practically in work package 3,4 and 5.

Difficulties arose because the German partners decided to enter the project as separate partners, and not as being joined under one such authority. This was the case at least until just before the deadline for the application to be handed in but then, practically at the very last minute, two new partners stepped in and quasi signed for these three partners as eligible public bodies as stipulated by the CADSES application requirements.

In saying that, something else became explicit, namely that a validation of outcomes can be best achieved by them becoming an integral part of official policy. It means these outcomes shall be implemented due to having the necessary political support. After all, when it comes to combine protection and promotion of cultural heritage with regional development, solutions worked out within a project have to be further and be even accepted as priorities and guidelines for future good practice at European level.

It was already mentioned that the regional authority of Thuringia endorses and supports the HERMES project because it is a first of its kind within this region. Equally the Foundation Weimar Classic is searching for a way out of its financial crisis and need for reform, while Radio Lotte seeks such financial support that can root this unusual radio station even more so in the life of a city like Weimar while extending its outreach by being connected to other radio stations and to have available an online streaming broadcasting possibility. The latter means virtually a global audience.

Altogether it is an explicit policy of the German government but also of Mr. Seemann, President of the Foundation Weimar Classic, to seek through such cooperation projects more cultural linkages to especially the newcomers to the European Union since all of them are neighbors of Germany. Eastern Europe needs to be rediscovered and this while the East-West unification within Germany itself has to level with both expectations and possibilities.

Consequently the HERMES project can be considered as being something like a test case. If other linkages shall be created in due course as the project unfolds, then it can be deemed to be successful already on its own terms. However the German partners need to be conscious of the fact that their own way of going about when it comes to create complex networks, that this is not necessarily transparent enough for the other partners. The interface and inner project communication needs to be atuned to this fact, in order that all partners know with whom they are dealing with in reality.

For the sake of clarity, the complex network of the German partners consists of following architecture:

  1. The lead partner – Foundation Weimar Classic – together with Radio Lotte and Bauhaus University in Weimar - enjoys two very important political endorsements: by the Foundation for the Promotion of Technology at the regional level of Thuringia and Innovation and by the Ministry of Housing at the federal level of Germany.

It should be noted that the two political bodies have delegated responsibilities for the project to the Foundation Weimar Classic in the case of overall project management, to Bauhaus University for Evaluation purposes and to Radio Lotte to implement the Internet Radio component of HERMES.

Both the Foundation for the Promotion of Technology and the Ministry of Housing shall be present in the project as observers and partake in all important decision making meetings. They are:

Partner 2. Stiftung für Technologie- und Innovationsförderung Thüringen STIFT

Mainzerhofstr. 10, D-99084 Erfurt

Represented by: Ulrich Rüdiger Schleusner

Representative of regional authority as observer: Katrin Mewes

Partner 3. Deutscher Verband für Wohnungswesen, Städtebau und Raumordnung e.V.

Georgenstr. 21, D-10117 Berlin

Represented by: Dr. Hans-Michael Brey

Contribution to the project:

The Federal Ministry for Housing has provided to the project something like 250 000 Euros extra to the project. As this cash has been made immediately available, it will have a definite impact upon the project. The coordinator stated at the First Meeting the money shall be used for two purposes:

  1. to make possible the participation of those partners from the new Eastern European member states which have no funding of their own. Specifically, it will be used to finance the coming of journalists to work with Radio Lotte and of scientists to work with the Foundation Weimar Classic respectively.

  2. Also some of the money shall be used to hold not one, but three summer courses in Weimar during the life time of the project.

Bauhaus University

Under the responsibility of Prof. Hassenpflug, director of the Institute of European Urban Studies, Weimar shall undertake an evaluation on how promotion of cultural heritage within the cities contributes to urban development. As such, this means his faculty will ensure within the project a linkage between spatial planning and cultural heritage as factor of development.

There is another faculty of the Bauhaus University in Weimar involved in the project whereby it is not entirely clear what shall be relationship of HERMES to the faculty of Interface Design. Still important to the project will be what shall take place at the Wielandgut Ossmannstedt. There a Digital Museum will be set-up under the auspices of Bauhaus University Weimar, Interface Design – Professor Jens Geelhaar. Still, their integration in the project is not at the outset very clear.

Aside from doing work for WP 2, WP 3 and WP 4, strength in the German proposal are the summer courses. Other possible actions by the project leader can be related to restoration efforts of the HERDER building in which is housed Radio Lotte. However, it is not clear whether or not they can go ahead with that restoration effort. Here experiences can be made with regards to promotion and protection of cultural heritage at Municipal level. Although this building stands under the protection of World Heritage, some difficulties exist. A public high school housed on another floor of that building does not want any changes in the present use of the building and negotiations with the planning department of the City of Weimar prove to be quite difficult. It may turn out to be a valuable learning experiences when it comes to going forward in not just protecting cultural heritage, but when it comes to try and to implement a new and wise use of such building. As the saying goes, nothing is easy in practice. A weak point is that the City of Weimar does not participate in the project.

    1. Toblach

Toblach is a cultural center situated in the Grand Hotel located in Northern Italy, or more specifically in the mainly German speaking region of South Tyrol. Since it is very difficult to sustain such a huge hotel complex due to the high costs involved in just keep operating such cultural heritage place, they face particular questions about use of such a building which enjoyed in the past a glorious time. Among other things, Toblach shall organize the Europa Nostra Heritage Film Festival to help focus on cultural and natural heritage by use of this media. But primarily it is in the character of Toblach to organize discussion forums. Also they will like Weimar and Volos organize as well a summer course within the HERMES project. But as explained by Burkhardt Kolbmueller during the First Meeting in Weimar, the prime task of this partner is to link the HERMES project to the discussion about sustainability. This shall follow the model of the Toblach discussions which have taken place there already over many years. Famous for their thesis on ecology, they also educate architects, builders, users etc. on such matters as use of solar energy. Within the project they plan to install an Internet Café and shall look into how modern media can be used to preserve and to promote a specific cultural heritage: the music of Mahler.

As to the other partner of Toblach, the Joint Convention mentions partner 16:

Gemeindeverwaltung Toblach

Graf Küngli Str. 1, I-39034 Toblach

Represented by: Mair Bernhard

So far nothing further is known about this partner since he did not attend the First Meeting in Weimar.

    1. Volos - DEMEKAV

Volos, Greece – DEMEKAV as Municipal Enterprise is in charge of the development projects undertaken by the City of Volos and, therefore, directly accountable to the mayor and elected council of Volos.

Since in the project there is no other municipality participating (the city of Weimar itself is not in the project) Volos has no real equivalent partner in HERMES at urban level. This needs to be pointed out in order to understand differences of interests but also what shall govern the relationship of Volos to such a European project.

In terms of actions, Volos aims to promote the set-up of three museums:

    1. Industrial Heritage Museum in the former Brick factory Tsalapatas but not in the hands of a private investor after having gone through a public procurement process

    2. A History of the City museum for which a building in need of restoration has already been selected. It is located in the old part of the city and not very far away from the Tsalapatas complex

    3. As a future dream can be considered the efforts under way to create the basis for an Argonaut museum. The idea is to use a park area as location so that it fits into revitalization plans of a neglected or downgraded area due to being in the shadow of the port and near a non residential area squeezed in between port and road connecting Volos to the access road to the National Road going to Athens or Larissa.

From that description alone it should be clear that the project has to be conceived as a preparation for future investments. For the construction and operation of these museums different financing sources need to be found and that it is not easy for a local environment. It is extremely hard in Greece and even more so in a small city like Volos to attract the investment needed to be able to realize such ambitious aims and even dreams.

Volos will continue within the HERMES project work started already in two previous European projects undertaken by DEMEKAV:

  1. the URBAN project used for restoration work of former industrial buildings like Tsalapatas. As such it represents an initiative of the City to revive the old part of Volos having become neglected and an down graded area. Due to these urban regeneration efforts slowly but steadily private investors are now returning to the old part of the city and start business of their own.

  2. As to the other previous project CIED, this Article 10 – ERDF project attempted to link culture with economic development by advancing in planning methods and thereby create the framework conditions for furthering cultural heritage through Good Practice.

As to the theoretical work on spatial planning and cultural identity questions, DEMEKAV will have here the backing of the Documentation Centre. Under the guidance of Aegli Dimoglou from the Volos Municipal Center for Historical Research and Documentation, Volos will host a major conference in October 2004 on the theme of the Argonauts and the Black Sea. The conference is expected to provide a lot of materials of relevance to understanding the different layers of cultural influences over the times.

With regards to work package 3, Volos has held already prelimary discussions with the museums expert Peter Higgins from Land Design Studio in the UK. He was asked to give advice on museum design, architectural form and location within space. As these may be perhaps the three most important dimensions in need of being addressed within HERMES when wishing to deal with cultural heritage in a more comprehensive way i.e. by embedding this in the overall development strategy of a city or a region, notes of his public lecture in Volos have been made available to the HERMES project. There will be involved as well in Volos some university people with experiences in use of media technology in exhibitions and museums.

Volos has also asked Effie Pappas to undertake a first feasibility study for the History of the City Museum. Based on interviews of local actors and people, the design of the study is such that it initiates a new debate especially amongst decision makers in the city and offers a way to approach anew the question of museums and how cultural heritage shall be treated in future by the city as official policy. Here the HERMES framework will be important to upgrade that debate at local level.

When it comes to joining the Cultural Heritage Internet Radio network, DEMEKAV has already undertaken the first step towards the creation of such a gateway that allows online streaming and links between the network and local radio stations. The website address for the Volos Internet Radio station called “politismos” (the Greek name for ‘culture of the city’) is www.i-politismos.gr

It should be pointed out that DEMEKAV as implementation body of the Municipal Council is involved in a continuous process of negotiations. The political and practical implications of that have to be understood as part of a real decision making process. For instance, the creation of the Museum for Industrial Heritage involved just recently public procurement procedures in order to find a private investor willing to take over operations of the former brick factory Tsalapatas.

As part of ‘good practice’, a public body like the city council has to seek such terms in the agreement with the private investor, so that the cultural constraints for the use of such an industrial heritage buildings are respected. Originally designated to be used not only by the Museum for Industrial Heritage but also by local handicraft workshops, video and cinema center, restaurants, exhibition spaces and conferences, the entire complex is indicative of how Volos wants to and has already undertaken steps to revitalize the old part of the city. With it goes a new valorization of cultural heritage and what role it plays in the memory of the city and its people.

    1. National Centre of Regional Development, Bulgaria

As for Bulgaria, besides the National Centre of Regional Development, there are involved separately the National Museum Boyana Church and Bulgarian National Radio. It is to be expected that the National Centre shall coordinate these two other partners when it comes to clarify participation in and contribution to the HERMES project.

Important about the National Centre of Regional Development, represented by Miriana Iordanova, is that here a direct linkage exists between spatial planning, regional development and the need to protect cultural heritage in Bulgaria especially by means of a new law listing those buildings and site that need protection and promotion. As such the National Centre of Regional Development will make a valuable contribution to the HERMES project on the basis of its interests. It is to be expected that the Centre will approach spatial planning questions quite differently from the Bauhaus University and thereby give the project a very much needed orientation with regards to regional development issues in need of being resolved. This will link naturally to what almost all partners attempt to achieve, namely to use cultural heritage to attract tourists and thereby bring about further development opportunities.

Crucial for work package 4: Internet Radio is that the National Bulgarian Radio has gone on the web with a site linking news items to radio broadcasts which can be heard and read by means of online streaming. The website address is www.bnr.bg and is presented in about nine languages while coverage is ensured for all major news items from politics to business, travel to sports. It includes a recent coverage of the Olympic Games held in Athens 2004. As such it is a novel model to have the National Radio broadcast in this widely accessible form also news relevant to Bulgaria’s prospects of entry into the European Union.

    1. The Polish partners

Poland is represented by three separate partners with no connection between them as of yet but which may develop in due course of the project. They are Radio Krakow, Malopolska Cultural Institute and the Ethnographical Museum of Krakow. Judging by their presentation at the First Meeting, they constitute very different interests.

The coordinator of HERMES has also informed and involved the regional authority or the Marshall office as it is called In Poland. Due to the closeness of the First Meeting of the HERMES project to the 1st of May marking the entry of the new member states into the European Union, representatives from the Marshall office could not attend. However, their active interest in the project is guaranteed so that it is to be expected that the regional dimension for future development will be referred to in Poland.

1.6 The other Radio stations as partners of the HERMES Internet Radio network

Representatives from radio stations in Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia attended as well the meeting but they had not as of yet the authority of their respective broadcasting stations to make any agreements.

In terms of cultural heritage, they pointed out that in their archives invaluable films and other materials exist but they may be lost in the conversion to digital preservation. Here poses itself a crucial question when it comes to protecting cultural heritages not merely in museums or landscapes undergoing rapid transformations as urbanization and other developments, even negative ones, eat away at cultural heritage sites. For the ‘intangible’ cultural heritage is just as important to be preserved e.g. rare films or live broadcasts or interviews with people who influenced the course of their country and therefore of history. In this regard HERMES can open many new perspectives and support in crucial moments the keeping of such archives rather than letting them end up on the rubbish heap of not history but just offices being cleaned out before being demolished to make place for the new.

1.7 Conclusion

Given the many differences between 16 organizations named by the Joint Convention as partners of HERMES, a word of caution is needed here. The project needs still clarification as to who is a full partner, who not as this will matter for constituting the Steering Committee.

Also the proposal of HERMES is not as of yet a validated concept by the partners so that they know on how they will work together over the next three years.

One critical caution needs to be articulated. The HERMES project should not be reduced to a mere collection of individual partners who all have something to do with

^ Top

« Record of the 1st HERMES meeting in Weimar 24.04 - 28.04.2004 | Theory and Concept of Cultural Heritage (WP2) »