By Çağla Parlak
We are thrilled to share our recent post-earthquake cultural heritage assessment field visit to Kahramanmaraş, Turkiye, conducted in cooperation with the Association for the Protection of Cultural Heritage. This meaningful initiative was made possible through the generous funding provided by the Aliph Foundation.
Between 23-29 July, our team of dedicated conservationists assessed 175 historic buildings in the city of Kahramanmaraş, which suffered significant damage from the February 2023 earthquakes, including awe-inspiring civil architecture and time-honored monuments, each carrying the weight of centuries of history. The devastating earthquake had left its mark, reminding us of the vulnerability of our shared cultural heritage. The once-proud monuments, centuries-old buildings, and priceless artifacts bore the scars of nature’s fury, urging us to act swiftly to protect the region’s cultural treasures.
During our site visit, we focused on assessing the extent of the damage and devising restoration strategies. What touched us most was our engagement with the locals. They welcomed us with open hearts, sharing their concerns and hopes for the future of their historic houses.
The Heritage Management Organization (HERITΛGE) is launching a new call for concept notes for small grants ($5000-$50000) for organizations, groups, and individuals working with heritage in Africa.
The grants are part of our Heritage Management Project – Africa (HerMaP-Africa) which is funded by the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program. They will fund projects that focus on the protection of and/or promotion of local heritage for socio-economic development in the continent.
“We are looking to untap the potential of heritage in Africa, in order to make a difference for the development of local communities, “ said HERITΛGE Director, Dr. Evangelos Kyriakidis. “Heritage has the ability to empower and we are ready to partner with local organizations around the continent to this end.”
Applicants will have to demonstrate that their project addresses one or more of three criteria:
1) Sustainability – Our focus is on projects that will have a lasting impact, much beyond the duration of the project, for example protecting heritage sites from desertification by creating green belts, preserving/stabilizing/restoring and adaptively reusing a historic building for community needs, researching the public heritage landscape, installing solar panels at heritage sites to generate income or decrease expenditure in the long term, building eco-friendly tourism infrastructure, direct interventions that strengthen social institutions, like traditional methods of mediation, etc.
2) Capacity development and network building – We encourage projects that strengthen local skills and build closer links with peer organizations in the HERITΛGE network. Examples include on-the-job training in preventive conservation (e.g clearing or fencing sites), experience and expertise exchanges with other local NGOs on shared issues such as desertification or erosion of sites, co-operative training on museum exhibition design, etc.
3) Concrete and community impact – We encourage projects with strong, measurable incomes in terms of heritage protection and benefits to local people. Each project should provide clear indicators of the planned impact. These indicators will depend on the type of work carried out but some examples include increased visitation to a heritage site or program, financial benefits to the local community in terms of increased employment opportunities or local businesses created; tourism earnings; money savings by solar panel installation; the size of area protected from desertification, etc.
To apply for these grants please complete the concept note application form you will find here.
About HerMaP-Africa: Made possible by a $5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program, it aims to strengthen HERITΛGE’s Africa programs, fund initiatives that link heritage with socio-economic impact, develop the capacity of local organizations, and help them preserve African heritage and culture.
About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the largest supporter of the arts and humanities in the United States. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through its grants, it seeks to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at mellon.org.