Interview with thematic area chair Claire Giraud-Labalte, Catholic University of Angers, France, ENCATC member
What is the rationale of your thematic area?
The expansion of leisure time in European countries provides new opportunities for the discovery of patrimony. In addition, the growth of travel and the development of technology and the media make the public more demanding with regard to culture and tourism.
To meet this new reality, and to meet competition, public and private sites must re-think must re think about the mediation that they are offering to their public(s), come up with appropriate solutions for the diverse needs, explore all the possibilities offered by the developments that have taken place and even support the emergence of new artistic forms without always showing a stronger allegiance to the cultural content than to the technical.
It is necessary to review the existing programmes and methods, to include new models and even create specific pedagogical programmes for initial education and continuous training.
What are the objectives?
Establishing a platform for dialogue and exchange between education and training institutions, heritage organisations and research field. The aim is to achieve increased awareness among the local public and decision-makers of historical sites as a resource for local development; develop high quality training material on mediation programmes applied to heritage sites produced and widely shared and disseminated; and to ensure a number of good practices are identified, documented and promoted.
Whom do you target? Who are members of your thematic area?
Members are mainly education and training institutions; representatives from the cultural and heritage sector; representatives and experts from international, European and national institutions, and researchers.
Among our most important partners are the UNESCO World Heritage Center (WHC), the Council of Europe, Europa Nostra, National Trust and ICOMOS.
What are your activities so far?
Since 2007, we have held thematic area meetings in cooperation with “Val de Loire” world heritage site UNESCO and with the Louvre Museum. In my capacity as chair of the thematic area, in 2008, I have contributed to the design and actively participated in the “ENCATC Summer Academy” for students organised in the framework of the project Synaxis Baltica in St. Petersbourg and Tikhvinn, Russia.
The first axis of our activity is organised around data collection, i.e. a collection of bibliographic references in order to provide international commented bibliography; the identification of experts; and the identification of terminology used in different countries according to their respective “mediation” practices.
The second axis of the working group consists of analysis of case studies.
And what have been your achievements?
A major result is the stimulating exchange between colleagues from different countries, encouraging each and everyone of us to reflect on, and to challenge our thinking on the subject.
It is also rewarding to work on a bibliography from a twofold perspective: first, the bibliography is international and, second, it strives to identify concepts underlying the terminology used. A further achievement is our joint reflection on case studies. For example, in 2009 we have visited the tactile gallery at the Louvre museum in Paris, and analysed the experience together afterwards. The benefits of joint learning experiences of this type have then to be integrated into our curricula and in the work with our students.
How do you perceive you main challenges?
First, we want to conceive pedagogical models or pedagogical mediation programmes applied to patrimony.
Second, we have to determine the types of qualifications required in the domain of mediation (in particular, the conception of what can be offered in the way of visits of patrimonial sites for a heterogeneous public).
Third, we want to find the means of establishing the link between education, patrimonial sites and the cultural and tourist institutions.
Fourth, we will define the basic elements and pedagogical content of the programmes. And, of course, we want to introduce didactic options into the teaching of mediation applied to the patrimony, alongside some good practices in training in mediation applied to the patrimony.