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The rapid development of digital technology creates new expectations for cultural institutions

13. July 2017 - 16:47
Konverentsi avasessiooni visuaalne kokkuvõte (autor: Coline Robin). Foto: Kultuuriministeerium/Mats Kangur

Today in Tartu, a two-day conference ended where Europe’s experts in the field of cultural heritage sought to establish a balance between conserving heritage and keeping pace with digital developments. The idea that resounded was that the best solutions are born of cooperation with the public and involving the users in the creation, storage and distribution of cultural content is of key importance. 

Minister of Culture Indrek Saar, who opened the conference, pointed out that cultural heritage provides a basis for developing a dialogue regarding the developments in the society at all levels. “The greatest challenge for the cultural institutions is how to more successfully involve the public, to meet their expectations, while also preserving their educating role as trustworthy sources of information,” said Saar. “Never before has information been so accessible to us. Users do not simply wait at the end of the information flow, but wish to express themselves, participate and also manage the cultural content themselves. Cultural heritage must be available to everyone in order to be a source of inspiration and knowledge,” the minster emphasised.

In his presentation, the main speaker, Professor Pier Luigi Sacco of IULM University – Milan focused on the changing expectations of the public. “Today, information circulates openly in communities and there is no clear difference between the creators and consumers. Everyone participates in the creation of cultural content.” The future of involving the public in culture lies in joint authorship and joint participation. “It is a priority to involve everyone in the creation and distribution of cultural content and the conservation of heritage,” Sacco concluded.

According to Tarvi Sits, Undersecretary for Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture, Estonia has an excellent opportunity during its presidency to raise the challenges facing the cultural fields. “Each Member State has the right to develop and make its own decisions related to cultural topics, and yet there are a number of questions that affect all cultural institutions, regardless of their location, which require resolution. Our common challenges, and also new opportunities, result from the rapidly changing environment that is precipitated by the development of digital technology, and in this regard, cooperation with the Member States, as well as the cultural institutions, will help us find the best solutions,” said Sits. 

More than a few dozen speakers appeared at the two-day conference, and they sought answers to the following four fundament questions in their presentations: What is the role of culture and heritage in building stronger communities and a more cohesive society? How to put the public at the centre of the activities of cultural institutions and develop the ability of cultural institutions to involve the public? How to connect cultural heritage to social innovation and economic development? How will European Union copyright reform impact access to cultural content?

In addition to the presentations and discussions, practical workshops took place, where participants shared their experiences and proposed solutions to the challenges faced by memory institutions today.

You can watch the Cultural Heritage Conference on the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU website.

Read more about Estonian priorities for the cultural during its presidency HERE

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