This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. By clicking or navigating the site you agree to allow our collection of information through cookies. More info

2 minutes to read Posted on Monday June 14, 2021

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Shadi Ardalan

Shadi Ardalan

Head of Member State Relations and Governance , Europeana Foundation

Digital capacity building in the cultural heritage sector: the Portuguese Presidency Europeana conference

On 3-4 June, Europeana and the National Library of Portugal hosted an online conference in partnership with Portugal’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union on building capacity for the digital transformation of the cultural heritage sector. In this post, we tell you all about the event.

View of the city of Porto, from the Torre de Marca to the Fontainhas
Vista da cidade do Porto, desde a Torre de Marca athe as Fontainhas
Aguilar, Manuel Marques de
Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal

Europeana and Portugal hosted two-day capacity-building event

The conference explored a shared understanding of digital transformation and digital capacity building in the cultural heritage sector, placing cultural heritage in the spotlight as part of Europe's recovery. The event, which took place under Portugal’s Presidency of the Council, was co-organised by Europeana and the National Library and the Ministry of Culture of Portugal. Explore Europeana's digital transformation definition through the video below!

Digital Transformation Definition from Europeana on Vimeo.

No one-size-fits-all for capacity building

The event offered an opportunity to bring the EU Member States representatives together and exchange views, successful approaches, and common challenges around capacity building. It looked into what digital transformation and capacity building really mean, the importance of building capacity for the recovery of the sector and the basis for a common vision towards change.

Graça Fonseca, Minister of Culture of Portugal speaking at the conference
Graça Fonseca, Minister of Culture of Portugal speaking at the conference
June 2020
Ministry of Culture of Portugal
Graça Fonseca, Minister of Culture of Portugal speaking at the conference

Graça Fonseca, Minister of Culture of Portugal said, ‘I wish that the mission and values promoted by Europeana in this conference will continue beyond this event fostering the permanent reinforcement of digital transition and the permanent role of culture in social and economic development of Europe.’

‘We need to develop the digital capacity of Cultural Heritage Institutions,’ said the European Commission’s Yvo Volman in his keynote. ‘This is the moment to build the future and use the Recovery and Resilience Facility to get Cultural Heritage Institutions ready for the digital future.’

And Rehana Schwinninger-Ladak  Head of Interactive Technologies, Digital for Culture and Education at DG CONNECT shared insights into the European Commission’s recovery plan and the Recovery and Resilience Facility for a green, digital and resilient Europe. 

A diverse panel of speakers and participants ranging from cultural policymakers to cultural heritage professionals from many European countries and beyond attended the conference. The perspectives offered by the speakers and participants contributed to our shared understanding of capacity building in the sector and how Europeana can support it. Through the workshop sessions, roundtable discussions and case study presentations we explored the multifaceted nature of capacity building. It’s the process by which individuals and organisations obtain, improve, and retain skills, knowledge, tools, and other resources - with  no universal approach that fits all. 

The participants suggested that a range of considerations are critical to support digital capacity building, including: integration of cultural heritage goals into national strategies, clear policy direction, advocacy for the sector, allocation of sufficient funds to the cultural sector and its digital transition, the European Commission’s support and leadership, training, multilinguality, collaboration within the sector and cross-sectoral collaboration at local, national and European level. The variety of these considerations from various perspectives reflect the multi-faceted nature of digital transformation. 

Manuscripts on stage Transcribathon 

In conjunction with the conference, our first fully online Transcribathon - Manuscritos non palco - running from 31 May to 7 June saw 30 participants use the Transcribathon platform to transcribe over 1 million characters from texts from the digital collection of the National Theatre D. Maria II. The event was organised under the auspices of the Portuguese Presidency with the National Library of Portugal, Europeana, Facts & Files and the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II as part of its 175th anniversary. The winner João Oliveira transcribed 332,757 characters and added 2,069 enrichments. The award for best presentation went to Andrea Valencia and Marcos Cavalho. 

Find out more

Over the coming months, the Europeana Initiative will continue to reflect on and facilitate conversations on capacity building, building on the outcomes of this meeting. Stay tuned!

See the presentations from the Presidency event, and watch the recordings from Day 1, Day 2 and a short recap of the conference. 

Explore what we mean by digital transformation