QUEBEC – New statistics on church closure and extended use

According to the findings of TC Media, nearly 300 churches have found a new use in Quebec during the last decennium.

Between 1900 and 2003, some 250 churches were reconverted, according to the UQAM, Québec University, Montréal.

Today, about one church a week is closed, sold or transformed for a new use. Between 2003 and 2013, 285 churches were adapted to a new use, and 40 were torn down. New uses include commercial functions (3%), cultural functions (8%), residential (7%) or library (2%) functions; 17% of church buildings go on to host services of a different religion.

Read the original post in French here.

Image: TC Media

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CHINA – building new temples to meet (Western) demands

In an article in the Financial Times, Patti Waldmeir describes China’s spiritual tourism boom. Western and local tourists are heading to the countryside to clear their mind and find enlightenment.

Daoism’s famous mountain, Wudangshan, saw a 20 per cent year-on-year rise in visitors in the first quarter of this year, while nearly 40 per cent more visitors travelled to Buddhism’s Jiuhuashan this lunar new year holiday than the last. The Buddhist island of Putuoshan in the East China Sea has seen such an explosion of tourism that in 2012 it announced plans for an IPO (though public outcry later forced the local government to clarify that religious sites would not be included).

Local governments are building new temples to meet the demands. A plethora of trips are available to escape the city, commune with nature and find quiet, forming a whole new industry of ‘back to the countryside’ tourism, which rises 12% year on year. These trips are increasingly popular with the middle-class Chinese as well as Western visitors.

Read the full article here.

Chinese temple, China, ca. 1900-1919, location unknown, Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Chinese temple, China, ca. 1900-1919, location unknown, Photo: Wikimedia Commons

FRANCE – heritage expertise as export product

In a press release dated 18 June 2014, Aurélie Filippetti, minister of Culture and Communications, formulated  a mission to develop internationally France’s knowledge and experience on the matter of cultural heritage. France can boast of an exceptional knowledge concerning cultural heritage politics and the protection and promotion of heritage buildings, she writes. Exporting this knowledge contributes to the image of France in the world.

Read the full article in French here.

On a related topic: read more about ALTERheritage, making vocational learning on religious heritage conservation available to a larger portion of the European sector, here.

 

NETHERLANDS – Dutch minister calls for better heritage protection

The Dutch minister for Culture, Education and Science, Jet Bussemaker, has issued a video in which she calls for contributions and opinions regarding the new law on the protection of cultural heritage. Citizens have four weeks to react.

In the video, Bussemaker stresses the value of cultural heritage which “belongs to all of us”, saying that this heritage must be safeguarded in a more consistent, less fragmentary manner. “The government will no longer sell cultural heritage to the highest bidder. When private owners can no longer afford to look after their heritage, we will find a different solution.”

Read on in Dutch here.

EUROPE – “Act now or risk missing out”, warns report

A European Commission inquiry finds that economic benefits will stem from cultural diplomacy, but current weaknesses need to be addressed.

A new report by the European Commission, ‘Preparatory Action: Culture in EU External Relations’, was launched earlier this week. The report, which summarizes findings of a 16-month inquiry in 54 countries, confirms high levels of interest across the world in engaging culturally with Europe, while also pointing out weaknesses. The report warns that Europe’s international cultural strategy needs to speak to young people, and that small scale and local cultural entrepreneurship should be promoted to counteract the impact of globalization and social transformation, which are seen as placing power in “the hands of massive trans-national conglomerates, as well as in a small number of privileged cities and regions”.

Recommendations on how to increase the impact of Europe’s cultural diplomacy include pooling the resources of cultural organisations and Member States; facilitating exchange of experience and best practices between cultural stakeholders from different countries; and empowering local cultural stakeholders by facilitating cooperation with cultural organisations and foundations. 

FRH is pleased to note that these recommendations bear resemblance to our aims of sharing expertise and experience, facilitating cooperation and providing a communication platform for all those involved with historic places of worship.

Read the full article here.

GERMANY – Church demands more government funds for heritage preservation

Top representatives of Churches and politicians debated the relationship between church and state in Nordrhein-Westfalen. Finance Minister Walter Borjans (SPD) turned down an initative from the Grünen to abolish the church exit fee. Church representatives called for more money for heritage buildings and day care centers. Both Protestant and Catholic churches, faced with rising cost in these areas, want the country to take a greater part in financing these. Prime Minister hannelore Kraft (SPD) called for greater public awareness of the services of churches to society.

Church President Annette Kurschus warned that both Churches are increasingly overwhelmed with the maintenance of their monuments – some 6.000 in Nordrhein-Westfalen – because of the rise in heritage listed churches and, conversely, the complete cancellation of funding for listed monuments.

Read the full article in German here.

 

CZECH REPUBLIC – ’10 stars project’ linking historic synagogues

The  10 Stars project in the Czech Republic is being inaugurated this month. This is a nationwide project linking 10 synagogues/sites of Jewish heritage around the Czech Republic, financed by an approximately €11 million grant from the EU, with further funding from the Czech Culture Ministry.

Tomas Kraus, the executive director of the Federation of Jewish Communities, which owns the buildings, said: “The idea is that if you visit one of the sites, even by chance, you will realize that there are nine other parts of the exhibition, so you will want to visit them, too.”

Read the full article here.

Exterior of the restored synagogue in Březnice, Czech Republic, one of the 10 Stars sites. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Exterior of the restored synagogue in Březnice, Czech Republic, one of the 10 Stars sites. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

http://www.jewish-heritage-europe.eu/2014/06/16/10-stars-project-is-inaugurated-in-czech-republic/”

ALTERheritage meeting in Gothenburg

The fourth meeting in the ALTERheritage project took place in Gothenburg, Sweden between 11 and 13 june 2014. Some pictures of the meeting:

Johanneskyrkan, Gothenburg:  deserted for years now a shelter and food distribution centre

Johanneskyrkan, Gothenburg: deserted for years now a shelter and food distribution centre

Johanneskyrkan, Gothenburg:  deserted for years now a shelter and food distribution centre

Johanneskyrkan, Gothenburg: deserted for years now a shelter and food distribution centre

Gothenburg Cathedral, visit to the construction site in the tower, where new office spaces are being realized

Gothenburg Cathedral, visit to the construction site in the tower, where new office spaces are being realized

ALTERheritage 4 Gothenburg P1300718

The ALTERheritage team meeting in Gothenburg, June 2014

Seminar in the congregation rooms of Masthuggskyrkan

Seminar in the congregation rooms of Masthuggskyrkan

Site-visit to Masthuggskyrkan, skillfully balancing 90k visitors a year with regular parish services.

Site-visit to Masthuggskyrkan, skillfully balancing 90k visitors a year with regular parish services.

Masthuggskyrkan

Masthuggskyrkan

HUNGARY – Fundraising for medieval frescoes at Abaújvár

In August 2013, the congregation at Abaújvár, Hungary launched a fundraising initiative to help cover the cost of uncovering and restoring the medieval frescos discovered behind some layers of limewash of their 13th-century church. They were probably covered in the 1580s, when the inhabitants of the village became Protestant, and were progressively discovered in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The total size of the frescoes is 520 m², bringing the entire estimated cost of restoration to more than 100 million Forints. Art historian Lilla Deklava Farbaky writes:

There are medieval wall paintings on the entire northern wall behind the current limewash, on the wall in the sanctuary, on the vaults, on the triumphal arch … This church with its treasures makes a rare exception in today’s Hungary.

Read more about the project here. To contribute, e-mail us for more information.

Frescoes at Abaújvár

Frescoes at Abaújvár. Photo: Graham Bell

Fragment of a Saint, Abaújvár

Fragment of a Saint, Abaújvár. Photo: Tamás Szegõ

 

ITALY – Save art with street art

An Italian non-profit initative, LinkedARTS, has started a crowdfunding action to restore two 16th-century paintings in the church of Santa Maira della Pace in Rome, by means of “an artistic joint venture between ancient and contemporary art”.

The project, an initiative of three restorers, hopes to raise 28.000 euros needed for the restoration by the two work by mannerist painter Gerolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta. Roman street artist Lucamaleonte has agreed to supply original artworks specifically created for this project as a reward for donors.

More about their project, and the possibility to contribute, on this web site.