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2 June 2012

Europa Nostra Awards: winners announced in Lisbon

The names of the winners of the public choice award and of the six 'Grand Prix' laureates in the 2012 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards were announced yesterday evening at the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, in the presence of Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Plácido Domingo, the world-renowned tenor and President of Europa Nostra. The ceremony was attended by an audience of 1,200 people including Aníbal Cavaco Silva, President of Portugal, and Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Asturias. 

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The winner of the public choice award, chosen in an online poll among the 28 overall laureates for 2012 are the fortifications of Pamplona in Spain. The jury commented: "The restored fortifications are no longer a defensive wall, but a meeting place and a symbol of unity for the citizens and for the town."

The six Grand Prix winning projects (jury comments below) are:

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Commissioner Vassiliou commented: "In the past 10 years, the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards has become the most prestigious of its kind in Europe. I would like to thank all the winners for their energetic commitment in protecting our cultural heritage and Europa Nostra and the juries for their sterling work. The Prize has proven very effective in raising awareness among decision-makers and the public about the value of cultural heritage for European society and the economy and our responsibility for protecting it for future generations. This is why we intend to continue supporting cultural heritage through the Culture programme and the future Creative Europe programme".

Europa Nostra’s President Plácido Domingo added: "Our award winners stand for excellence, for passion and for dedication. They are perfect ambassadors of the power of our 'Creative Europe'. Europa Nostra and the European Commission are committed to unlocking the full potential of Europe's cultural and natural heritage. They are the key to social cohesion as well as sustainable economic growth in Europe."

All 28 winning projects were honoured during the ceremony in Lisbon.

Background
The ceremony took place under the patronage of Aníbal Cavaco Silva, President of Portugal, who delivered a speech, and of José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, who sent a video message. Guilherme d'Oliveira Martins, President of the Centro Nacional de Cultura, welcomed the guests. The European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards has been organised by Europa Nostra and the European Commission since 2002.

The 28 winners were selected among 226 submitted projects from 38 countries. The final choice was made by juries composed of independent experts from across Europe. The winners received a plaque or a trophy. The six 'Grand Prix' winners also received € 10,000.

Cultural heritage brings a significant – and often underrated – contribution to growth and job creation. It represents a significant part of the cultural and creative sectors, which provide jobs for 8.5 million people in the EU and contribute up to 4.5% of Europe's GDP. Spending on conservation of cultural heritage by public and private bodies is worth an estimated € 5 billion a year. Figures published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) show that 40% of worldwide international tourism has a cultural dimension. Cultural heritage is also a key resource for sustainable development and social cohesion.

The awards are supported by the Culture programme of the European Union, which has invested € 30 million in co-financing heritage projects since 2007. Other EU-funded programmes also provide support in this area: since 2007 the European Regional Development Fund has allocated € 3 billion for the protection and preservation of cultural heritage, € 2.2 billion for the development of cultural infrastructure and € 775 million to support cultural services; a further € 150 million has been invested through EU Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development since 1998.

Note to editors:
Europa Nostra
is the Voice of Cultural Heritage in Europe. It brings together and represents 250 non-governmental and non-profit organisations with a combined membership of at least 5 million citizens from all over Europe. It also counts on the direct support of over 1,500 individual members and more than 150 associate public authorities and corporations. Its vast network of professionals and volunteers is committed to safeguarding Europe’s cultural heritage for present and future generations.

The Awards Ceremony in Lisbon forms part of Europa Nostra's annual European Heritage Congress. One of the themes of this year's Congress was 'Saving Europe's Endangered Heritage'.

The deadline to apply for the next awards is 1 October 2012. The next Awards Ceremony is expected to take place in Athens in June 2013.

Video interview:
Video interview with Commissioner Vassiliou on Creative Europe and cultural heritage (interview by Wolter Braamhorst, Europa Nostra)

Learn more:
http://ec.europa.eu/culture
http://www.europanostra.org

Social Media:
http://twitter.com/europanostra
http://flickr.com/photos/europanostra
http://www.youtube.com/europanostrachannel
Androulla Vassiliou's website Twitter: @VassiliouEU