Commission joins forces with Member States to launch a Collaborative Cloud for Europe’s cultural heritage

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today, the Commission has launched a dialogue with Member States on the joint creation of a Collaborative Cloud for Cultural Heritage to help safeguard European cultural treasures through a digital infrastructure. The Cloud aims at fostering cooperation and co-creation among cultural, creative and technology sectors.

With an envisaged budget of €110 million until 2025 from Horizon Europe,the Collaborative Cloud will be a unique infrastructure that will enable unprecedented transdisciplinary and large-scale collaboration between specialists, such as cultural heritage scholars, curators, archivists and conservators. It will provide cutting-edge technologies for digitising artefacts, researching artworks, and documenting data, all of which will significantly advance and add a new digital dimension to cultural heritage preservation, conservation, and restoration. It aims to facilitate the access to advanced technologies and remove barriers for smaller and remote institutions.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture Education and Youth, together with Ministers of Culture and Science, as well as high-level representatives from Member States and from the European Parliament have laid the groundwork for the European Collaborative Cloud for Cultural Heritage.

So far, only 30% to 50% of the cultural collections in Europe have been digitised. The statistics are even lower for three-dimensional representations of large cultural heritage structures and landscapes, the basis for in-depth scientific research. Furthermore, most standards in use are not uniform, traceable or secure, putting Europe’s tangible and intangible cultural treasures at risk.

Commissioner Gabriel said: “Europe’s rich cultural heritage will enter a new digital dimension with the European Collaborative Cloud for Cultural Heritage. This European effort will facilitate cooperation between researchers, curators and museum professionals in order to safeguard our cultural heritage, enable easy access to cultural content and allow future generations to enjoy it for years to come. It will also offer new opportunities to smaller museums and cultural institutions to advance digitisation and work together on joint projects in secure and highly professional working space.”

The work has just started, with the ex-ante impact assessment on the Collaborative Cloud conducted by eight independent experts.  The Cloud’s development will take place under Horizon Europe, the EU research and innovation programme (2021-2027). The programme has for the first time a cluster dealing exclusively with “Creativity, Cultural Heritage and Inclusion”, with an overall budget of €2.28 billion for 2021-2027. The Commission will be working closely with the Member States to prepare the Horizon Europe work programme for implementing the structure, services and tools for the Cloud infrastructure. The budget earmarked is €110 million, with calls for proposals to be launched in 2023 and 2024.

Background

Actions in Horizon Europe’s cluster on “Creativity, Cultural Heritage and Inclusion” support European cultural heritage to become green and digital.  The EU fosters innovation and creativity in the sector of arts and the cultural and creative industries through various programmes.  For the first time, the Creative Europe programme envisages sectoral support for cultural heritage.

The New European Bauhaus initiative is the flagship of the EU efforts in the field of social inclusion, sustainability and aesthetics. Following pressing requests from the cultural sector, the Cloud infrastructure will help to better preserve European unique artefacts, cultural landscapes, historical sites and buildings in the digital age.

Under the previous EU research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, more than €60 million was invested in research and innovation actions to develop tools and methodologies for preserving tangible and intangible cultural heritage; protect endangered heritage from illicit trafficking and foster access to cultural heritage and promoting cultural tourism.

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