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2 minutes to read Posted on Monday February 27, 2023

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Nicole McNeilly

Nicole McNeilly

Impact Advisor , Europeana Foundation

Impact Assessment Report: Europeana 2021

This Impact Assessment Report explores Europeana’s annual conference, Europeana 2021 - Recover, Rebuild, Grow.

Passion fruit seen in an MRI scanner
Passion fruit, axial view, MRI
Alexandr Khrapichev, University of Oxford
Wellcome Collection
United Kingdom


Europeana 2021 was the Europeana Initiative’s annual conference which took place in 2021. As in 2020, participants at this wholly online conference - from Europe and across the world, from the Europeana Network Association and beyond, from many different professions and ranges of experience - met and were united by a shared interest in digital cultural heritage. This is the third report reflecting on the impact of Europeana’s annual conferences. 

Europeana 2021 explored how the cultural heritage sector can recover, rebuild and grow in a post-pandemic world. It did so through a mix of keynote speeches, debates, social events and workshops. 70% of the programme for Europeana 2021 - over 30 sessions across three days - was co-created with cultural heritage professionals across the sector who responded to a call for proposals. 


Following the phases of the Impact Playbook methodology, we approached the impact assessment of Europeana 2021 as follows, building on past assessments conducted in 2019 and 2020. 

We identified stakeholders (beneficiaries) of the conference and prioritised two, the general attendees and speakers at the conference. We created a change pathway for both stakeholders. We wanted to measure similar aspects to past years, including network development, learning outcomes and indications that participants would make a change in their work as a result of the event. We also assessed satisfaction and captured feedback that could help shape future events Europeana delivers to support the sector.

Post-event questionnaire

We shared a post-event questionnaire with all attendees in November 2021, with separate questions for speakers. We had a response rate of approximately 25%.

Despite the good response rate, we found a bias in the responding sample: more Network members responded to the survey than non-network members, which may increase the likelihood of positive bias (that is to say, that those with positive comments were more likely to respond or that Network members were, overall, more likely to respond). We therefore advise that the data presented in this report should be seen as optimistic reflections on the outcomes generated for conference attendees.

Longitudinal questionnaire 

In March/April 2022, we shared a longitudinal (follow-up) questionnaire with attendees of Europeana 2021. This was the first time we had taken such an approach to assessing the impact of the annual conferences. We received 50 responses, which represents a low response rate compared to the questionnaire shared almost immediately after the conference. However, such a response rate was not unexpected - in past impact assessments, namely our research into the impact of our national aggregation workshops for heritage institutions, we also received low response rates. Of those that responded, we also saw a bias in that more Network members responded to the survey than non-Network members. This, however, does not mean that the data are not useful. We report on them bearing in mind that they represent a small and likely active segment of our Network and sector, whose views should still be taken into account. 


  • 1,685 people registered for Europeana 2021 from 86 countries. 49% of those who registered had never been to any Europeana event before and 53% were not Europeana Network Members. This represents significant reach and growth compared to the first all-digital conference, Europeana 2020, and the last in person conference held in Lisbon in 2019. 

  • For the first time, we investigated attendee participation in the conference in more detail. We learned that the majority wanted to attend live to some degree, but almost 60% (including some of those who attended live) rely on having access to the recordings. 10% only wanted to catch-up afterwards, for example, due to schedule clashes or time-zone issues. People attended for an average of 7.5 hours (just over one day). 

  • 81% of questionnaire respondents who were not Network members reported that the conference motivated them to become a member (an increase from 69% in 2020). We found slightly higher growth in Network membership compared to the previous months, but not significant enough to suggest that the conference was a big driver of Network growth. 

  • Europeana 2021 created opportunities to strengthen and expand a professional network. More participants at Europeana 2021 report strengthening their existing network or expanding their network (48% on both counts), compared to 2020 (38% and 44% respectively). In addition, 81% of those attending feel like part of a community around digital cultural heritage (an increase from 74% in 2020). There was no growth in the median number of contacts made or contacts that attendees might collaborate with in future. Some participants also seemed uninterested in digital networking formats, noting that it is a struggle to build connections when meeting digitally.  

  • Satisfaction with Europeana 2021 was high. The satisfaction of general attendees was, at 86% satisfied or completely satisfied, slightly higher than participating speakers at 83%. 89% of those attending Europeana 2021 reported that the conference had value for them in some way either personally or professionally and 91% enjoyed themselves. Participants were most satisfied with the organisation of the event and the quality of the programme with few participants reporting being dissatisfied or completely dissatisfied in any of the conference aspects measured. 

  • 80% of those who responded to the Europeana 2021 questionnaire reported gaining skills or knowledge that they can use in their work or professional setting (an increase from 77% in 2020). 72% report being inspired to change how their organisation uses digital cultural heritage and 63% report the same inspiration for change relating to open digital cultural heritage. However, only 59% report being more able to make a change in their organisation or otherwise professionally. This is similar to 2020, where 49% of participants reported feeling more able to make a change as a result of the conference. There are numerous barriers in place which may get in the way (e.g. status in an organisation). Attendees shared some feedback and recommended that the event could be more participatory, in-depth and focussed on training. 

Europeana 2021 impact assessment infographic
Europeana 2021 impact assessment infographic

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Infographic text

Europeana 2021 key data. Take a look into our key impact findings from our last event!

Community and Networks. Europeana 2021 created opportunities to strengthen and expand a professional network. 81% of those attending feel like part of a community around digital cultural heritage. 

'I was hounoured to be part of Europeana 2021 - a professional event which not only gathered the best professionals but addressed the most important issues in the cultural field and society at present time.' Speaker at Europeana 2021, Network member for more than five years. 

Network Membership. 8 out of ten of respondents who were not Network members indicated that the conference had motivated them to become network members. 

Learning and creating change. There were even higher levels of participants enjoying themselves and a high sense of personal and professional value if compared to 2020. 89% reported that the conference had value for them either personally or professionally. 80% reported gaining skills or knowledge that they can use in their work or professional setting. 72% reported being inspired to change how their organisation uses digital cultural heritage. 

Country representation. Join colleagues from across the world at Europeana's annual conference. Number of countries represented in the Europeana annual event along the years. 2019 - 38. 2020 - 60. 2021 - 86. 

Conclusions and recommendations

Europeana 2021 was held completely online for the second time and there were high levels of satisfaction from both speakers and attendees. This was in spite of the online format, which, as some participants emphasised, struggles to replace face to face interaction. Nonetheless, the feeling of being part of a community around digital heritage increased from previous years.

Learning and capacity building outcomes increased in all instances measured. Even more participants report learning something that they could use in their work but, asin the past, report not being able to make a tangible change. Though barriers to creating change in heritage organisations exist that are beyond Europeana’s control, we should also consider prioritising programming that takes the participant beyond discussion to concrete mechanisms for change. 


  • The Europeana Network Association should exploit the annual conference to drive Europeana Network Association growth - there is potential. 

  • The Europeana Network Association Members’ Council and Membership Working Group should address the relatively high figure of those who are unsure if they are Network members or not. 

  • Future events should continue to try to balance interactivity and training with high-level discussion in order to lead to tangible change that participants can implement in practice. 

  • We should reconsider the strategy for putting videos on Europeana Pro after the conference.

Validation and next steps

The interpretations presented here will be shared with Europeana Foundation colleagues who organised the Europeana 2021 conference, with the selection committee, and with the ENA Members’ Council. 

The report and its recommendations for relevant groups (e.g. the ENA Membership Working Group, the Climate Action Community) will be shared directly by email, with an offer for a follow-up meeting.

You can download and read the full report through the link below.