Posted on Monday February 14, 2022

Europeana WEAVE Event Series on diversity and inclusion workbook

This workbook is designed to provide attendees with a guide and resources to make the most of the Europeana WEAVE Event Series on diversity and inclusion.

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Join Europeana and the WEAVE project for a series of sessions on diversity and inclusion, and how cultural heritage institutions can widen European access to cultural communities via Europeana. These sessions will provide an opportunity for the participants to get a better understanding and inspire each other on how cultural institutions can support a more diverse and inclusive sector. They will be carefully planned and moderated by WEAVE partners and Europeana Foundation with the support of Europeana Diversity Inclusion Cross-Team to ensure attendees have a safe space for informal and truthful conversations. This workbook is designed to provide attendees with a guide and resources to make the most of the sessions.

Practical information

Inclusive conversation and community guidelines

WEAVE is operating on a horizontal structure and aims to challenge the models that focus on individuals and rather allow for leadership to be shared.

Responsibility is shared and people are encouraged to shape and respond to the circle to ensure the quality of experience is inclusive and reflects the diversity and a multiplicity of voices and lived experiences.

Europeana encourages inclusive conversation and collaboration during all aspects of the conference. When in communication with others, we will strive to hold thoughtful and considerate conversations. This means, we ask all conference participants to:

  • Listen (and read) with the same energy and focus with which they want to be heard.
  • Embrace a learning mindset, be aware of their own biases, and have the courage to be curious about what they do not know or understand.
  • Respect all points of view, hold space for multiple perspectives and lived experiences to influence what we do and why we do it (meaning, we are maintaining a space where participants may be without fear of attack, ridicule, or denial of experience).
  • Own any errors they make, apologise, and make amends.
  • Maintain that any person has the right to speak up and identify when a boundary has been crossed.

If you want to signal a boundary being crossed, or if you have any questions about these guidelines, please don't hesitate to get in contact with a host or co-host of the session you are attending. Our hosts and co-hosts will make sure to take appropriate action where needed.

Introduction to WEAVE

Europeana WEAVE Workshop

Europeana WEAVE Workshop
How can CHIs support inclusivity?
13:00 - 15:00 CET, 18 February 2022

Digital and social technologies are facilitating new and diverse forms of curatorial practice, which can be harnessed to highlight a balanced view of historical situations. This gives the floor to underrepresented communities, in turn supporting inclusivity and diversity. The project is working towards the greater inclusion and involvement of underrepresented communities in content curation, where technologies mediate and allow users to contribute to our histories.'

This hands-on workshop will explore the importance of including the representation of cultural communities in the work done by cultural heritage institutions. During the workshop, participants will learn how CHI’s can support inclusion with practical exercises and facilitated discussions. Parts of this workshop can be used to continue discussions with your communities and colleagues.

Participants will be asked to do some preparation before the workshop and work after the workshop. These exercises will take approximately one hour.

The workshop will be led by Dr Tola Dabiri and Sebastiaan ter Burg.

Introduction
Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is a large and important area of cultural heritage, but it is also an area which has been largely overlooked by cultural heritage institutions and professionals, who have mainly focussed on tangible heritage assets.

Intangible cultural heritage is often reduced to its performances - singing, dancing, storytelling, crafts and processions. But this approach ignores the actual heritage element of how these activities have been used to preserve and transmit the history of peoples around the world. Most of the work undertaken with ICH is often reduced to safeguarding, i.e. preserving the activity but not the people, communities and environments in which this heritage takes place; thus stripping the ICH of its real meaning and purpose, or worse, viewing ICH as a tourist and financial opportunity.

This WEAVE workshop aims to raise awareness, understanding and skills in managing ICH through activities, discussion and the sharing of experiences.

Workshop exercises
ICH is a large area and we are unable to examine all of this in our workshop. In order to gain the most from this session, please look at these pre-workshop materials and complete them before the workshop.

Activity 1 - Tell me who you are?
Please download and print this template and decorate the mask in a way that represents how you identify yourself. You can use anything you want to decorate your mask. What is important for people to know about you? And how can you communicate this with your mask decorations? Please have your mask ready when the workshop begins and send a photo of you wearing your mask to Sebastian ter Burg by email: sebastiaan.terburg@europeana.eu with “WEAVE workshop activity” as the title. We will make a collage of all the masks that we’ll share with the other participants.

Activity 2 - Speaking the same language?
ICH has many different interpretations. What does ICH mean to you? Please write 5 words which explain what ICH means to you and send your words by email to Sebastiaan ter Burg in the same email as your mask. We will then develop a word cloud from all of the entries to help us to begin to develop a shared language.

Activity 3 - Case studies
The following case studies will be used to encourage sharing and discussions in the workshop breakout groups. Please read the three case studies and make notes of your answers for the sessions. All names, locations and scenarios are fictional, any resemblance with existing person, organisation, location or scenario is coincidental.

Case Study A - The Exhibition
Your department will shortly be launching the long anticipated La Sur Yon exhibition. There is great excitement as the painter visited your town often and his most celebrated painting is of the Dance of the New Year Cheese, which is still practised in the region to this day. You decide that a performance of the dance would be an excellent addition to the opening celebrations for the exhibition, and you contact Farmer Cheddarsteps, the leader of the dancers, to invite him and the other dancers to perform in the springtime month of May. Farmer Cheddarsteps firmly declines your invitation and refuses to raise your offer with the other dancers. He is very offended and is going to write an angry letter to the local papers.

Discussion questions

  1. Why is Farmer Cheddarsteps so offended?
  2. What have you misunderstood?
  3. How can you make amends?

Case Study B - Making new friends
Since the recent Black Lives Matter activities in 2020, your organisation is concerned that despite making equality, diversity and inclusion policy statements and speaking about this on the local media, there are still very few visitors from ethnically diverse backgrounds. This is particularly troubling as there is an initiative to repatriate one of your most popular artefacts to Lower Colonia, where it was taken from in 1865. To try and kickstart your renewed efforts your staff organise and publicise an open evening for members of the ethnically diverse communities of your region. The big night comes but no-one from your target audience attends.

Discussion questions

  1. Why was the event so poorly supported?
  2. What could you do next time to improve your chances of success?
  3. Do you think that this might have anything to do with the statue from Lower Colonia?

Case Study C - Folk stories and real history
Your organisation has worked enthusiastically to include ICH in its collections and to forge relationships with the communities who would not usually engage with you, including the local Sunshakers. This work has included adding new interpretations of objects including their use and importance to intangible cultural heritage, especially the rattles, pots and bells used in the Sunshaker ritual. However, some of the Sunshaker practitioners have said that they have not been able to find any information about their culture on your organisation’s website or catalogue. When you discuss this with the curators responsible for these artefacts, their response is that these new pieces of information about the Sunshaker ritual are only folk stories and not real facts. The Sunshakers are angry and upset, as once again their knowledge about their own culture has been dismissed, and they are very reluctant to continue to engage with you or your organisation.

Discussion questions

  1. How do you begin to raise awareness about ICH with the curators?
  2. How can you ensure that the knowledge of the ICH practitioners is valued, in particular those in your local community?
  3. How can you reassure the Sunshakers and others that their knowledge, skills and culture will be treated with respect?

Europeana WEAVE Panel session

Europeana WEAVE Panel discussion
Making Cultural Collections more inclusive 
13:00 - 14:00 CET, 25 February 2022

This session will be a panel discussion, where participants will hear from aggregators, cultural heritage institutions, and representatives of minoritised communities. The panel will discuss how minoritised and underrepresented communities are directly impacted by how their cultural heritage is represented in museums and on digital platforms. Offensive terminology and imagery in these representations, combined with limited involvement of the affected community, can impact their heritage and social representation. The panel discussion will focus on working with communities on how terminology is used, the content displayed, and the copyright approach. Furthermore, opportunities and challenges will be explored that arise when heritage collections are reframed through aggregation in a shared digital space such as the one offered by Europeana.

Participants are encouraged to prepare questions before the event starts.

Europeana WEAVE Cafe

Europeana WEAVE Final Cafe
13:00 - 14:00 CET, 10 March 2022

In this final cafe the audience will, together with the partners involved in the WEAVE project and Europeana’s D&I team, look back at the learnings as well as the outcome of the discussions of the previous WEAVE events in these series.

The cafe is an open space for informal discussions. It is an opportunity for cultural heritage professionals to get to know and inspire each other, to reflect on specific but broadly formulated topics, and to exchange experiences.

Previous and current European projects focussing on heritage access and inclusion

Here is some further information about previous and current European projects focussing on heritage access and inclusion which in various ways lay the foundation for the capacity-building work being developed in WEAVE. This section looks at the following:

  • The Horizon 2020-funded REACH project, Re-designing Access to Cultural Heritage for a wider participation in preservation, (re-)use and management of European culture (2017-2021)
  • Citizen Heritage (2020-2023), an Erasmus+ project focused on citizen science in cultural heritage
  • PAGODE Europeana China (2020-2021)
  • WeAre#EuropeForCulture programme of co-creation workshops that were delivered to EC as part of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage.

REACH (2017-2021)
The Horizon 2020-funded REACH project, Re-designing Access to Cultural Heritage for a wider participation in preservation, (re-)use and management of European culture (2017-2021), aimed to establish and evaluate a series of participatory pilot models for the re(use), preservation and management of different forms of cultural heritage (CH). Four participatory pilot models focussed on institutional cultural heritage, rural heritage, small towns’ heritage and ‘minority’ heritage. As well as evaluating successes, the REACH project also hoped to determine key factors in barriers to participation in ICH and how these might be overcome, in order to inform and develop future policy frameworks for the effective participatory preservation, management and (re)-use of CH.

Throughout the project, the emphasis was on the importance of bottom-up approaches to participation which have developed from theories of history and heritage ‘from below’, aiming to give voice to those personal histories previously rendered invisible, or only partially visible, by a received notion of ‘History’. This is especially important in terms of allowing for the re-appropriation of ‘minority’ heritage, or any heritage that has been lost, misappropriated or even erased due to structural discrimination and inequality (e.g. women’s history). However, the experience of REACH’s participatory pilot projects has shown that a bottom-up approach, while desirable, is not always easy to achieve. Here, models of participatory heritage are relevant: these have an initial top-down element, but in order to become more sustainable, can ultimately give way to a more bottom-up model when the circumstances are right. However, whatever the initial model, there are a number of methods to bring communities into the heart of decision-making processes that are vital for the success of participatory activity in CH. For example, co-creation and co-management methods, as well as crowdsourcing, collaborative mapping and the use of collaborative media, have all been used to bring together different stakeholders with diverse needs, perspectives and priorities to design, implement and sustain successful participatory activities to foster more resilient communities and more resilient heritage. Further findings from REACH include the need for collaborative working and co-governance structures to enable meaningful participation, and the need for capacity-building work to support communities in becoming able to influence economic, social, cultural and environmental policy decision making.

REACH’s core themes of community empowerment and meaning-making, educational and knowledge exchange (cross-cultural, intergenerational interdisciplinary), resilience and adaptation, and top-down and bottom-up approaches across both tangible and intangible cultural heritage, opened up to a number of important lessons learned. These include:

  • The need to build connections between individuals and groups facing similar challenges to enable interdisciplinary knowledge exchange and strengthen communities’ voices.
  • As regards equality and diversity, practices and policies need to be inclusive in order to raise awareness of, as well as to acknowledge and address, structural and endemic inequalities.
  • Gender policies and practices need to recognise women’s historic contribution to CH, as well as to further encourage their empowerment.
  • Public involvement in both shorter and longer-term decision-making processes provides empowerment, which in turn, enhances social cohesion.
  • Education and training should be interpreted widely from developing research and dissemination networks to informal community activities (workshops, demonstrations, arts, dance, language and performance).
  • There is a need to recognise the value of intergenerational and cross-cultural activities to transmit and safeguard cultural memory, as well as traditional skills and knowledge that are at risk of being lost.
  • Institutions such as museums must become accessible community-hubs for communities’ cultural engagement and spaces of collaboration, dialogue and exchange.
  • There is a need for heritage management to be adaptive and flexible, and for activities to develop organically following bespoke approaches (there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach).
  • New digital technologies and social media can enhance, but not replace, interpersonal and physical encounters with CH.
  • Participatory activities in CH have intrinsic economic and social benefits. They need to be viewed as an asset, not a liability; as a benefit, not a cost.

Please see also Open-heritage.eu, an independent platform that emerged from REACH and developed by Promoter, that is freely accessible to the whole community of heritage researchers, practitioners, professionals and citizens that are interested in promoting CH values, supporting its public recognition and encouraging participatory approaches.

The above text has been adapted by Rosa Cisneros, Marie-Louise Crawley and Neil Forbes from REACH (2021) D1.2 Overview of the REACH project’s results pp.49-56

Citizen Heritage (2020-2023)
This is an Erasmus+ project, focused on citizen science in cultural heritage, which aims to provide Higher Education Institutions with new insights and opportunities to include Citizen Science activities for social purposes into Higher Education Institutions curricula, teaching and learning activities. The project offers them a selection of good practices on how to benefit from the knowledge circulation in and outside academia and how to adopt a more vibrant role in civil society. The digital realm, with the digitisation of vast collections published in open access, and the growing availability of tools for online engagement and interaction, opens up incredible new possibilities to further stimulate knowledge creation and circulation in cooperation with citizens. 

PAGODE Europeana China (2020-2021)
PAGODE is a CEF funded project aiming to enrich Europeana, to better showcase Chinese cultural objects in digital format, to enable collaborations among European museums and archives, and to foster international relations with Chinese Cultural Heritage Institutions.

Here are good practices and guidelines derived from the PAGODE project’s experience that aim at supporting content providers in the selection, curation and delivery of good quality content and metadata to Europeana. While some resources are China-specific, others have a wider scope and apply to any type of content.

WeAre#EuropeForCulture programme of co-creation workshops

Delivered to EC as part of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage, the WeAre#EuropeForCulture programme of co-creation workshops and pop-up exhibitions aimed to celebrate the diversity of European cultural heritage and engage citizens in participatory experiences. 

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