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HERITΛGE keeps up the pace of the HerMaP Gambia Program for cultural heritage

The participants of the 1st International Responsible Tourism & Heritage Conference

HERITΛGE is happy to share two important actions of its HerMaP Gambia Program, an introductory workshop tailor-made and delivered for officials of The Gambia’s National Environment Agency (NEA) and its participation to the 1st International Conference on Responsible Tourism Practices and Cultural Heritage Management. HerMaP Gambia is co-funded by the European Union to support the country’s heritage sector so that it can serve as a catalyst for social and economic development.

Within the framework of the program, in late January, 18 officers and managers from the NEA attended an Introduction to Heritage Management workshop, delivered by HERITΛGE’s director Dr. Evangelos Kyriakidis. The training equipped participants with a foundational understanding of heritage management principles while discussions on environmental impact assessment and heritage impact assessment provided valuable insights into safeguarding cultural and natural heritage, laying the groundwork for comprehensive heritage management strategies.

“In a fast-developing country such as The Gambia, it is important that decision-makers are aware of the importance of heritage for creating sustainable economic growth and of heritage management fundamentals,” said Dr. Kyriakidis.

The workshop was then followed up by the launch on January 24-25 of the 1st International Conference on Responsible Tourism Practices and Cultural Heritage Management, organized by the Institute for Travel and Tourism of The Gambia in cooperation with HERITΛGE, in the framework of HerMaP Gambia.

The symbiotic relationship between cultural heritage and responsible tourism was the main focus of the conference, showcasing community-driven initiatives promoting sustainability and providing valuable insights into leveraging tourism for positive impact and fostering sustainable economic development through heritage preservation.

“It is time to move on from being a paper tiger to scaling up the more active implementation of responsible tourism policy on the ground”, said ITTOG chairman and founder Adama Bah.

The conference featured a number of workshops and training opportunities that also highlighted examples from successful heritage management endeavors including the Janjanbureh Kankurang Festival, The Ninki Nanka Trail, various HerMaP initiatives, and more.

Keynote speakers, apart from Dr Kyriakidis included ITTOG’s Dr. Adama Bah, Baba Ceesay (HERITΛGE/HerMaP Gambia), Dr. Harold Goodwin (International Tourism Partnership), and Lucy McCombes (Responsible Tourism Expert).

HERITΛGE funding through its HerMaP Gambia program also enabled the participation of two nominated Gambian parliamentarians, Honorable Omar Jatto Jammeh and Honorable Alieu Baldeh.

Finally, it is worth noting that on January 23rd, HerMaP Gambia also held its steering committee and stakeholders meeting, with the participation of the National Assembly of The Gambia, NCAC, NEA, ITTOG, My Gambia, GYCC, the American Chamber of Commerce, JAYS, and a Barra VDC member.

About HerMaP Gambia: This HERITΛGE program aims to contribute to the enhancement of the cultural, creative, and sports industries as engines for social and economic development and job creation in The Gambia. Supporting The Gambia’s heritage sector, the management of Gambian Cultural Heritage is enhanced and valued. HerMaP Gambia is co-funded by the European Union and is being realized in partnership with Gambia’s National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC).

Empowering Heritage Practitioners in Ghana: Insights from Workshops in Winneba and Accra

In December 2023, two landmark community engagement in cultural heritage workshops took place in Winneba and Accra, Ghana, bringing together dedicated heritage managers from various regions. These workshops, part of HERITΛGE’s HerMaP Africa program and supported by the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program, aimed to equip participants with the tools and insights to actively engage communities, navigate cultural complexities, and delve into the rich tapestry of oral history.

© Lena Stefanou

The Accra workshop began on Wednesday 6th December with interactive presentations to 22 attendees by Dr. Aris Anagnostopoulos, Dr. Lena Stefanou and HERITΛGE director, Dr. Evangelos Kyriakidis.  On day two (Thursday 7th) attendees had the chance to explore heritage projects close to their hearts and present in small groups on how they might stimulate local engagement. The projects presented included the Mystic Ayi Tree, traditional Ghanian fabrics, oral storytelling traditions and the history of the famous priest Okonfo Anokye. The final day (Friday 8th) was dedicated exclusively to exploring oral history in heritage contexts. The theories and techniques of preserving oral history were presented to the participants and they were later asked to conduct mock interviews about one group member’s childhood. Following on from this, each group produced an interview report which would help guide them in future oral history research. 

© Lena Stefanou


The following week the same workshop was conducted in Winneba from Monday 11th-Wednesday 13th December. Although this workshop involved fewer participants (up to 18 on the final day a broad range of heritage ideas and projects were explored. The group exercise, this time conducted on day 1, produced ideas about promoting tourism through sculptural monuments in Efutu region, promoting widow’s rights in the Deogo communities and a “reclaiming our roots” festival. The discussions were lively and raised some crucial ethical questions about how a heritage practitioner should involve his or herself in cultural practices. On day two we introduced a new “Who are your Communities” exercise in which participants identified and presented their community and its values. The final day, as in Accra, confronted oral history in heritage contexts. Once again it was very encouraging to hear such a diversity of approaches, questions and opinions and each group produced a helpful report to take away.

All in all, we are very excited about how the workshop went and look forward to the potential for future expansion into other areas of Ghana. 

Bridging Heritage and Climate Action: New Workshop creates a generation of ambassadors

We are happy to announce the completion of our very first Interpreting Heritage and Engaging Communities for Climate Change workshop, an important milestone in the sector’s efforts to address this pressing issue. 

During this exciting inaugural 3-day online workshop (1st– 3rd December) HERITΛGE bought together 13 Heritage Managers from Africa (Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan, Zimbabwe, The Gambia), Europe and Asia (France, Turkey) that are now trained to fulfil the role of heritage and climate action ambassadors. 

 The sessions aimed to equip the participants with the necessary tools and expertise to actively involve local communities in climate action. It was a pleasure to see participants share their personal experiences, lead lively discussions, and actively engage in various exercises throughout a series of thought-provoking lectures by our instructors. 

Key Learnings:

  1. Understanding Climate Change: as both a global phenomenon and its specific effects on local communities. 
  2. Impacts on Cultural Heritage Sites: the focal point of the workshop was the exploration of the intersection between climate and heritage issues. 
  3. Community Engagement: learning effective strategies to communicate the impact of climate change to diverse audiences, with a strong focus on fostering sustainability and resilience in heritage sights. 

Much of the success of the workshop was down to the guidance of our four instructors. Valya Stergitoti acted as our interpretative trainer and planner. She has over twenty years’ experience in organising heritage workshops, maintains a high level of personability and individual focus in each project she curates, and we benefited enormously from her guidance and skills. Dr Aris Anagnostopoulos, who is currently engaged in research about archaeological ethnography (PhD University of Kent) and serves as HERITΛGE’S Community Engagement Programs’ Manager, brought vital insights to the community engagement side of the workshop. Dr. Lena Stefanou, whose expertise lies in archaeology and museum and heritage studies, suggested a diverse perspective to the workshop. Her work incorporates museum planning, educational design and community archaeology and she provided fascinating insights into all these matters and how climate issues might impact them. 

Finally, our director Dr. Evangelos Kyriakidis took the stage as the keynote speaker in a lecture which emphasised the urgent need for local ambassadors of climate mitigation in our world today. 

By the end of the workshop, the participant Heritage Managers came out with a deeper awareness of how interpretation can inspire communities to take climate action. Armed with this knowledge and expertise, these ambassadors of heritage and climate action are now better equipped to initiate influential initiatives within their communities, contributing to a more sustainable future. We look forward to seeing how their future work will lead to positive change!



Europe Mapping: Survey

HERITΛGE is delighted to announce our inaugural survey aimed at mapping the training needs of European Heritage Managers.

This is your chance to actively influence the design of training workshops, summer schools, and academic certificates that we offer to heritage professionals. Your input will assist us in comprehensively understanding the capacity and requirements of the European Cultural  Heritage Sector. Moreover, it will provide us with the necessary data to collaborate within our organization and with partners, governments, and international organizations to create more training opportunities that align with the skills you need and desire for effective cultural heritage management.

We are initiating a campaign to gather insights into the themes and topics that resonate with you, empowering us to develop future training courses that make a significant impact. Your participation, whether as an active or aspiring heritage professional, holds immense value.

Kindly take a few moments to fill out our survey and share your thoughts on how our training programs can assist you in overcoming challenges or adopting new working methods. The survey, designed to take no more than 10 minutes, will remain open for responses until December 31st.

We eagerly anticipate your contribution to our endeavors as we strive to best address the training needs of cultural heritage professionals in Europe.

Take the survey here.



Empowering heritage managers to transform visits into memorable experiences

We’re excited to share the highlights of our recent 3-day online workshop on “Heritage Interpretation for Site Managers”, which took place from 6 to 8 October 2023. Our workshop is designed to equip heritage managers with the skills to transform any visit into an unforgettable experience by crafting meaningful experiences for visitors.

This year’s transformative workshop brought together 16 passionate heritage managers from Africa (Cape Town, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, South Sudan, Zimbabwe) and Asia (Iraq, Saudi Arabia) for a deep dive into the principles and practices of high-quality heritage interpretation.

Led by the experienced interpretive trainer and planner, Valya Stergioti, the workshop provided participants with a comprehensive understanding of key concepts in heritage interpretation, planning, and thematic development. Valya, with over 20 years of expertise in organizing interpretive workshops, guided participants through interactive exercises and assignments, fostering a dynamic learning environment.

The participants not only acquired the techniques of formulating themes for tangible and intangible heritage phenomena but also explored the importance of engaging local communities in the interpretation process. The workshop aimed not just to impart knowledge but to empower heritage managers to transform heritage phenomena into experiences. Participants left the workshop feeling equipped to address the diverse needs of visitors through interpretive media.

The workshop featured a guest lecture by Dr. Lena Stefanou, an archaeologist and manager of our programs in Ghana who specialises in museum and heritage studies. Dr. Stefanou shared valuable insights on the theory and practice of museum studies, museum education, and the management of cultural heritage. Her expertise extends to community archaeology and heritage programs, emphasizing the vital role of community engagement in preserving and promoting our shared heritage.

Looking Ahead: Follow-Up Tutorial and Continued Learning

To ensure ongoing support and development, participants had the opportunity to engage in a follow-up tutorial with Valya Stergioti on 16 October. This session gave participants the opportunity to seek advice, ask questions, and receive guidance on upgrading their final assignments. This commitment to continuous learning reflects our dedication to nurturing a community of skilled and passionate heritage managers. As we continue to empower professionals in the field, we look forward to witnessing the positive impact they will have on preserving and promoting our global heritage.

Culture as a driver of sustainable development in Greece: a new report

HERITΛGE is pleased to announce the publication of an important report for the future of Greece’s cultural sector titled “Culture in Greece: How the culture sector can become an agent of sustainable development and a source of social value”, featuring a contribution by HERITΛGE Director Dr. Evangelos Kyriakidis.

The report was commissioned by DiaNEOsis, an Athens-based think tank that aims to contribute to public discourse on social and economic issues and promote change and meaningful political reform in the country.

It will be presented during the “Culture: Our Comparative Advantage” event organized to celebrate 70 years of the Friends of Music Society. The event will take place at Megaron, the Athens Music Hall, founded and managed by the society on Wednesday, October 18th.

The diaNEOsis report attempts a mapping of Greece’s cultural sector. It explores a number of themes, including the ways culture can contribute to the production of social and economic value and what Greece can do to strengthen its cultural and creative industries so that they can serve as a lever for sustainable development and regional revitalization.

The research aspires to open up a series of discussions and new research endeavors focused on the role of culture in today’s Greek society and economy. In this context, the writing team, headed by Christos Karras, a Cultural Strategy Consultant & Senior Consultant at the Onassis Foundation, focuses on eight areas and concludes with specific proposals that could form the basis for targeted, development-focused cultural policies.

The report’s authors also include: lawyer Gerasimos Yiannopoulos, Cultural Diplomacy researcher Olga Kolokytha from Universität für Weiterbildung Krems, researcher Antigoni Papageorgiou from Panteion University of Social and Political Science, journalist and museologist Dimitris Trikas, Onassis Foundation Digital Development and Innovation director Prodromos Tsiavos, and Benaki Museum curator and museum and cultural development advisor Sophia Chandaka.

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