Europe is often described as an open-sky museum by the many non-European visitors that every year are coming to discover its vast patrimony of cultural assets. Indeed Europe is home to 506 Unesco sites, with Italy leading the world ranking, before China, followed by EU Member States Spain, France and Germany. Overall, in the first ten places of the Unesco ranking ranking, 5 EU Member States are present.
At the same time, according to the Global Innovation Index, continental Europe is also home to the world leader in innovation, Switzerland, which has been leading the ranking until 2014, followed by Sweden and the Netherlands. Overall, in the first ten places in this global ranking seven EU Member States are present.
Access to culture is a human right, but it is also a huge opportunity for Europe to drive economic growth accelerated by innovation – in particular by the digital transformation, which most societies are currently experiencing around the globe.
Culture is not fixed or static but ever-evolving, reflecting old traditions and new identities. In times of uncertainty culture is a battle-ground prone to historical distortion, and appropriation by the establishment. Yet the fostering of an open, inclusive and truly democratic society requires creative thinking. In this context, digital innovation can help to make cultural heritage a tool for inclusion. This is especially relevant in 2018, the European Year of Cultural Heritage.
“Accessibility” therefore becomes a keyword in the longstanding political debate, highlighting the call to make culture and innovation more inclusive and accessible to everyone.
Julie Ward MEP and EIF Steering Committee Member
Birgit de Boissezon, Head of Unit 'Sustainable Management of Natural Resources', DG RTD, European Commission
Cristina Mussinelli, Secretary General of LIA Foundation (Italian Accessible Books)
Ton Rombouts, former Mayor of 's-Hertogenbosch and Member of the European Heritage Label Expert Panel
Eleanor Kenny, Head of Communications, Europeana Foundation