Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
    GR-C
    Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture, Sport,
    Youth and Environment

    GR-C(2004)4 18 May 2004
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    Promotion of art history in Europe
    Draft reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1621 (2003)

    Item to be considered by the GR-C at its meeting on 17 June 2004
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    Background

    The Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the Assembly, adopted Recommendation 1621 (2003) on
    8 September 2003.

    The Deputies considered it at their 853rd meeting (24 September 2003, item 3.1), forwarded it to the governments of its member states, to the CDCULT1, CDPAT2, CDPC3 and CDMM4 for possible comments by 15 December 2003, and to the CDED5 and CDESR6 for information, and asked the GR-C7 to prepare a draft reply. Two of the Steering Committees, the CDCULT and the CDPAT, provided their comments on the Recommendation.

    The CDCULT took note of the text at its 2nd plenary session meeting last October and adopted its comments at a later stage following a written consultation (Appendix I to the reply). Written consultation was also used by the CDPAT (Appendix II to the reply).

    About the Recommendation

    Besides being a testament to the diversity of European culture and an area of economic activity, the visual arts heritage is closely linked with notions of identity. For this reason, artistic diversity can be either used or misused; either bringing openness and understanding, or division and intolerance.

    Other problems the art heritage is facing are commercial exploitation and destruction, either purposeful or out of neglect. For this reason, the Assembly believes that the Committee of Ministers should continue to support the promotion of awareness of the cultural heritage at various levels of society, in particular among the public, the professions concerned and the political authorities, through the existing programmes (Council of Europe Art Exhibitions, the European Heritage Classes and Heritage Days, the European museum awards and the European Cultural Routes).

    The Assembly also addresses recommendations to member states in a large number of areas (academic institutions, museum policies, conservation, tourism, art trade, school education, and the media).

    DRAFT DECISIONS

    Draft reply

    The Deputies adopted the following reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1621 (2003) on the promotion of art history in Europe:

    “1. The Committee of Ministers has considered with interest Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1621 (2003) on the promotion of art history in Europe and has communicated it to the governments of its member states, as well as to a number of its steering committees. Two of them, the Steering Committee for Culture and the Steering Committee for Cultural Heritage, have provided comments on the recommendations of the Assembly, which are directed to member states. The Committee of Ministers considers them valuable and would like to share them with the Assembly. These comments are appended to this reply.

    2. The texts of both Committees also provide information on the past and current projects in the field of the promotion of art history in the framework of intergovernmental co-operation, including Council of Europe Art Exhibitions, the European Heritage Classes and Heritage Days, which the Parliamentary Assembly mentions.

    3. It should be noted that the forthcoming Council of Europe Art Exhibition to be organised in 2005/2006 on Leonardo da Vinci, will be an ambitious and innovative one in that it will comprise a series of exhibitions in various locations possessing works of art by Leonardo. At the same time a working partnership with high tech industry will enable the different sites to be on-line with educational material linked with Leonardo, and a website will be created.

    4. The Committee of Ministers points out that several sectors of its activity programme cover heritage awareness and approaching and enhancing art history as vehicles for mutual understanding, citizenship, tolerance and intercultural dialogue.

    5. Additionally, the Steering Committee for Culture (CDCULT) studies, within its Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict Prevention project, the role of stereotypes, which in the past were often reinforced, among other things, through unbalanced interpretation of artistic expressions. The project's action plan foresees awareness-raising activities among art historians and training directors of cultural institutions, so that cultural projects are presented in a comprehensive way to ensure respect and even-handed treatment for all cultural expressions.

    6. It observes that the preparation of a new framework convention on heritage should make it possible to lay greater emphasis on the importance of developing an awareness of the values of the cultural heritage. New initiatives in these fields could be launched in future Council of Europe activity programmes, drawing on the assessments currently under way.

    7. The Committee of Ministers stresses the need to reassert the fact that heritage conservation should be paramount and that the use of heritage for commercial and tourism purposes must be subordinate to protection and conservation requirements, as these are non-renewable assets which can rapidly deteriorate.

    8. It recommends, on the other hand, great caution in the field of relations with the art trade. The possible introduction of regulatory frameworks presupposes in-depth deliberation and wide consultation of the relevant circles. Universities keep their distance from the art market since the results of scientific research may significantly alter the market value of works. They cannot be both judge and jury by providing scientific work and at the same time being bound to dealers in such a way that the focus of their work could appear to be tied in with financial interests.

    9. As for the Cultural Routes Programme, this is being re-launched taking into account its pedagogical and awareness-raising aspects. Sites and monuments are more and more visited and presented as tangible expressions of human creativity, past, present and in the making. Coupled with thematic art exhibitions, they are able not only to persuade Europeans that arts constitute the inner core of their identities but also to stimulate them to give adequate new forms to modern thinking and feeling.

    10. As for the European Museum Awards, it has not been part of the Council of Europe's intergovernmental programme of activities.

    11. The Committee of Ministers reiterates its desire to develop closer co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly in the field of cultural heritage, in particular in the standard-setting field and, especially, in the initial preparatory stages of reference texts.”

    Appendix I to the reply

    Opinion of the Steering Committee for Culture on Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1621 (2003) on the promotion of art history in Europe

    The Steering Committee for Culture (CDCULT), which took note of this text at its 2nd plenary session meeting last October, warmly welcomed Recommendation 1621 (2003). The text underlines the important role art and its history can play in a number of fields.

    Consequently, the CDCULT is happy to make a number of comments, sometimes enlarging the scope of the paragraphs of the Recommendation, and to provide information on its ongoing projects, which at least partially correspond to the proposals made in the Recommendation.

    Museums
    The CDCULT intends to study the possibilities of promoting not only the traditional ambitious Council of Europe Art Exhibitions but also to develop smaller ones supporting co-operation between museums and galleries of a given region.

    Through its MOSAIC and STAGE projects the CDCULT has promoted the development of educational programmes on museums and stressed the importance of including in the exhibitions all cultural expressions. Within the MOSAIC project a specific publication was prepared on Arts organisations and their education programmes: responding to a need for change. Within the STAGE project a training visit for museum managers from the three South Caucasus countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) was organised and hosted by Greece in November 2003 in Athens. It allowed for meetings with Greek museum professionals, offering therefore an opportunity to establish contacts, exchange experience and good practices and to facilitate twinning between respective institutions.

    Tourism
    Within the European Cultural Routes programme particular attention has always been given to the participation of art historians in the development of routes. Most, if not all, of the Council of Europe cultural routes, illustrate art historical themes: Santiago de Compostella Pilgrim Routes, Baroque Route, Viking Routes etc.

    Schools
    In 1996 the CDCULT launched a two-year project on arts education in Europe, including a study on the situation in the member States (curriculum, number of hours etc.), and published in 1999 a Policy Note Culture, creativity and the young: developing public policy recommending the strengthening of the curriculum in this field, so that schools become places of enjoyment and creativity where the young can express themselves, strengthen their own identity as European citizens and learn about European diversity. In order to enhance the role of the arts in schools it is thus necessary to provide teachers with continuous training in the arts, in co-operation with artists and cultural institutions.

    Media
    From 1999 to 2001 the CDCULT conducted a project on the New Information Technologies, which recommended their use for cultural purposes, eg. publications of texts through the technique of print-on-demand, the importance of cultural CD-Rom (and now DVD-Rom) for young people, the general use of the Internet to promote European cultural diversity. The principle of access free of charge to new technologies in cultural institutions was underlined by the project.

    Further comments
    It should equally be noted that the forthcoming Council of Europe Art Exhibition to be organised in 2005/2006 on Leonardo da Vinci, will be an ambitious and innovating one in that it will comprise a series of exhibitions in various locations possessing works of art by Leonardo. At the same time a working partnership with high tech industry will enable the different sites to be on-line with educational material around Leonardo, a website will be c

    Additionally, the CDCULT studies, within its Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict Prevention project, the role of stereotypes, which in the past were often reinforced, amongst others, through unbalanced interpretation of artistic expressions. The project's action plan foresees awareness raising activities among art historians and training directors of cultural institutions, so that cultural projects are presented in a comprehensive way to ensure respect and even-handed treatment for all cultural expressions. Due to the lack of financial and staff resources these activities could not be sufficiently developed. Should the CDCULT follow up the action plan, this activity could be implemented.

    Appendix II to the reply

    Opinion of the Steering Committee for Cultural Heritage on Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1621 (2003) on the promotion of art history in Europe

    The CDPAT:

    - wishes to congratulate the Parliamentary Assembly for drafting and adopting this text, which should help promote art history in Europe as a means of building comprehension and tolerance between cultures;

    - reiterates its desire to develop closer co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly in the field of cultural heritage, in particular in the standard-setting field and, especially, in the initial preparatory stages of reference texts;

    - points out that several sectors of its activity programme cover heritage awareness and approaching and enhancing art history as vehicles for mutual understanding, citizenship, tolerance and intercultural dialogue, in particular:

    ▪ Heritage education (European heritage classes and the pilot project on “Europe, from one street to another”), an activity focusing on the study of art history by means of a direct approach to the work of art concerned and its relationship with other disciplines, and nurturing a critical eye and the acquisition of skills enabling young people to interpret heritage in a way that will increase their awareness of diversity, mutual understanding and the acceptance of differences;
    ▪ Heritage awareness-raising (European Heritage Days, “Heritage from elsewhere”), facilitating access by all citizens to sites and museums, and placing the emphasis on the European dimension;
    ▪ Interpretation of both the cultural and natural heritage, common to the preceding activities, with particular emphasis on best practices and the implementation of interpretation techniques in specific projects;

    - observes that the preparation of a new outline-convention on heritage should make it possible to lay greater emphasis on the importance of developing an awareness of the values of the cultural heritage. New initiatives in these fields could be launched in future Council of Europe activity programmes, drawing on the assessments currently under way;

    - notes that the previous CDPAT programme placed particular emphasis on the transmission of skills by preparing recommendations submitted to the Committee of Ministers and encouraging progress to be made in training in the crafts relevant to the restoration and maintenance of cultural assets, via the programmes of the European Foundation for Heritage Skills;

    - refers to its past activities in the field of preventing illegal trafficking of cultural assets aimed at strengthening collaboration between and among different sectors (art dealers, custom officers, representatives of major religious denominations (Final Declaration of the meeting of 3 and 4 November 1998) (doc CC-PAT (98) 82);

    - supports the provisions of Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1621 (2003) and observes that the Assembly's recommendation could be supplemented as follows:

    Observations on the text of the recommendation:

    - paragraphs 2 and 3:

    above and beyond the issue of diversity of European culture, it would appear worthwhile also emphasising the unitary currents that have been a characteristic feature of Europe and exchanges with non-European cultures.

    - paragraph 4:

    The alternative uses of cultural assets can in some cases endanger the integrated conservation of the built heritage. However alternative use of these heritage assets for purposes other than those originally intended is not always negative and open to criticism, but can be useful for the maintenance and ultimately the conservation of such assets.

    - paragraph 8:

    the promotion of art history in Europe could be presented also as an important tool that has the potential of fostering understanding and tolerance between cultures.

    *  “In Academic Institutions”

    - A provision could be added under this heading concerning access to and development of information and communication technologies (ICTs), which are especially necessary in this sector, (for example, picture and image libraries, music and sound libraries, film libraries, video libraries).

    * “In museums”

    - The provisions in this section do not necessarily have to refer exclusively to museums, but could also refer to other institutions such as cultural centres, sites and monuments which are not always perceived as museums.

    - A point could be added to refer to heritage education initiatives and the need to provide educational staff (particularly intermediaries between museums and the public) with career possibilities within the institution concerned.

    * “In tourism”

    - This section should emphasise the high standard to be promoted of the vocational training of all the various operators.

    * "In Art Trade"

    It could be suggested to take measures to :

    - ensure that ethical standards and a policy of good conduct be followed in any art trade transaction at local, regional, national and international level;

    - develop ways to strengthen cooperation on inter-sectorial level as a preventive measure to combat illicit trade of art objects.

    * “In schools”

    - The provisions in this field should also refer to out-of-school experiences and should suggest a greater emphasis on practical approaches as an international means of communication and expression between European students, particularly in the European Heritage Classes;

    - It could be suggested in paragraph to take measures to ensure that the basic curriculum of primary and secondary schools may offer basic training in art history, art education and/or artistic crafts.

    * In the media

    It should be stated concerning this issue that the primary focus should be on direct contact with the work of art.

    In more general terms, the CDPAT:

    - observes that the appreciation of art is the key to appreciation of good aesthetics resulting in good design in modern planning. Similarly, appreciation of art history gives an insight into the development of our historic buildings and gives greater understanding of their origins and why we should thus cherish and preserve them;

    - stresses the need to reassert the fact that heritage conservation should be paramount and that the use of heritage for commercial and tourism purposes must be subordinate to protection and conservation requirements, as these are non-renewable assets which can rapidly deteriorate;

    - points out that it is essential to acknowledge the subjective nature of each human being and that it should be possible for individuals to decide themselves on the visits they wish to make and the guides they wish to have and that there should be no “monopoly” of guided visits;

    - recommends that art history, courses on conservation, restoration and the appropriate enhancement of heritage items be included in the training provided in the tourism sector and that greater attention be paid to the teaching of “tourism” in universities, particularly in art history faculties and departments;

    - calls for the promotion of a process of reflection among art history specialists working in the various universities (as well as at the level of governmental and non-governmental organisms) on the future needs and organization of their profession in Europe.

    - recommends great caution in the field of relations with the art trade. The possible introduction of regulatory frameworks presupposes in-depth deliberation and wide consultation of the relevant circles. Universities keep their distance from the art market since the results of scientific research may significantly alter the market value of works. They cannot be both judge and judged by providing scientific work and at the same time being bound to dealers in such a way that the focus of their work could appear to be tied in with financial interests;

    - is concerned about the reduction in many countries of art classes in general education. In order to improve the relationship between schools and museums, there must be easier access for schools to museums, museums must provide educational services and there must be collaboration between the educational departments of museums and schools in order to organise a programme tailored to the requirements of each school;

    - draws attention to certain dangers inherent in large exhibitions and museums' attempts to outdo each other in order to attract the largest crowd possible: the presence of too many people detracts from the quality of the visit and can be dangerous for the conservation of works.

Note 1 Steering Committee for Culture.
Note 2 Steering Committee for Cultural Heritage.
Note 3 European Committee on Crime problems.
Note 4 Steering Committee on the Mass Media.
Note 5 Steering Committee for Education.
Note 6 Steering Committee for Higher Education and Research.
Note 7 Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture, Youth, Sport and Environment.


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