: AHEAD EU Project

AHEAD: A Manifesto for Redefining Heritage Experiences

The Heritage Management Organization is proud to be part of the AHEAD project, an international initiative funded by the European Union’s Creative Europe Programme. Today, we’re excited to announce the launch of the AHEAD manifesto, a groundbreaking document outlining a new vision for cultural audience development. We are calling upon all cultural heritage professionals, community leaders, and policy makers to sign up to the manifesto and become part of the AHEAD network.

A Human-Centered Approach to Heritage

The AHEAD manifesto calls for a fundamental shift in how we approach heritage experiences. It champions a human-centered approach, prioritizing accessibility, inclusivity, and audience engagement. This means moving beyond traditional models and fostering a more dynamic and participatory relationship between cultural institutions and their visitors.

The manifesto is the result of extensive research and collaboration among AHEAD consortium partners across Europe. It emphasizes the importance of audience development as a transformative process. This process is rooted in listening to visitors, ensuring inclusivity for all, and empowering them to actively participate in their heritage experiences.

Equipping Professionals for Success

AHEAD recognizes that achieving this new vision requires well-equipped professionals. To address this need, the project offers a comprehensive capacity-building program. This program equips heritage professionals with essential skills among others in:

  • Audience Insights: Understanding the needs and interests of diverse audiences.
  • Heritage Interpretation: Crafting engaging and meaningful narratives around cultural heritage.
  • Strategic Communication: Effectively communicating the value of heritage to target audiences.
  • Impact Assessment: Measuring the success of heritage experiences and their impact on communities.

The ultimate goal of AHEAD is to empower cultural professionals to reshape how audiences engage with heritage. This will lead to positive social, cultural, and economic development. Imagine museums, parks, and archaeological sites transformed into welcoming spaces for all, serving as vibrant hubs for community engagement and collaborative value creation.

Join the Movement

The AHEAD manifesto is a call to action for cultural heritage professionals worldwide. We invite you to endorse the manifesto and join this pioneering initiative. By working together, we can redefine the landscape of heritage experience design and usher in a new era of audience participation and appreciation.

Learn more about the AHEAD project, endorse and download the manifesto on the AHEAD website.

Unveiling AHEAD: a new EU-funded project to develop audience engagement

At HERITΛGE we are delighted to announce the launch of a new EU-funded project AHEAD (Accessible Heritage Experience for Audiennce Development). The project, that seeks to remodel the heritage experience and provide a blueprint to help cultural organizations develop and engage new and existing audiences, held its kick-off meeting in Rome on January 24-26 2024. 

AHEAD, which is funded by the European Union’s European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA),  brings together a dynamic consortium of partners, including Melting Pro (MEP), an Italian cultural consultancy that is responsible for managing the project; the Italian Ministry of Culture  (MIC), the University De Le Iglesia De Deusto, in Bilbao, Spain, and the Brussels-based innnovation agency Impact Valley. Participants include the Archaeological Park of Ostia Antica in Italy and the Altamira National Museum and Research Centre in Spain. 

Challenges in Cultural Heritage Sector and the AHEAD Impact Vision

Cultural Heritage (CH) stands as a vital economic and social resource for EU countries, yet many institutions face challenges in financial sustainability and audience engagement. AHEAD tackles these issues by addressing the low levels of entrepreneurial and audience-centered skills that are often found in cultural heritage institutions, introducing participatory audience development practices, and breaking down resistance to new marketing approaches among CH professionals all the while focusing on increasing accessibility for all and engaging local communities.

AHEAD’s vision is to innovate working practices in the CH sector by applying human-centered approaches, learning by doing, and data-driven methodologies. This transformative project aims to make the cultural heritage sector more relevant to communities, financially sustainable, and a catalyst for social, cultural, and economic growth.

The AHEAD Blueprint

AHEAD comprises three key components:

  • Capacity Building Program: Enhancing the skills of CH professionals in Audience Development, Marketing & Promotion, and Business Models 
  • AHEAD Model: Developing a participatory audience development practice, piloted with CH organizations from Spain, Italy, and Greece.
  • Impact and Innovation Strategy: Creating a strategy to upscale the methodology at the EU and international levels, overcoming systemic barriers in management and participation.

The AHEAD journey began with its kick-off meeting in Rome on January 24-26. Partners collaborated on shaping the AHEAD manifesto for audience engagement, taking into account all three key components of the project. Notably, the meeting saw the participation of end-users, including representatives from the Archaeological Park of Ostia Antica and the National Museum and Research Center of Altamira who contribution vital insights for the development of the project’s components. 

During the project, HERITΛGE introduced partners and participants to SHIFT, a major EU-funded research project to make cultural heritage more appealing and inclusive. 

Importantly, the project wrapped up with a presentation of AHEAD and a networking session with representatives of Italian cultural institutions at Rome’s Europa Experience – David Sassoli building that showcases the institutions and contributions of the European Union. 

Stay tuned for updates as AHEAD unfolds, unlocking the full potential of cultural heritage for current and future generations.



Newsletter Sign-up