On 23-24 September, Blue Shield International was delighted to accept the invitation of Società Italiana per la Protezione dei Beni Culturali (SIPBC – The Italian Society for the Protection of Cultural Heritage) to attend the international conference The Disasters of War. Why Save Culture?
Dr Emma Cunliffe, of the BSI Secretariat, spoke about the work of the Blue Shield Movement in protecting heritage in crisis. The conference, which took place in Tortina, Italy, attracted a wide range of expert speakers from major national and international organisations, and some who could not attend in person sent virtual presentations. BSI was delighted to present next to some of our Founding Four partners – ICOM, ICOMOS and ICA, and to meet old and new colleagues from NATO, the International Institute of International Law, the Carabinieri, Arts Council England, NGOs, civil society, and academia, as well as great attendance from local students. As well as important technical and academic discussions on loss and restoration theory and practice, speakers from the Syrian NGO Heritage for Peace and from a museum in Kiev, Ukraine, detailed the risks to the heritage of their countries, and their work to protect it, highlighting the human dimensions of loss and protection.
Perhaps most valuably, through wide-ranging and valuable discussions, the conference highlighted areas for the heritage community to improve, noting the need for improved training for students hoping to work in heritage and for existing staff in venue security and protection, noting the need to prepare in protective measures during peacetime, to implement the 1954 Hague Convention and Protocols, and to provide better support for our colleagues facing conflict and disaster, ensuring international money is well spent to have real impact on the ground. We are sure the case studies and concepts presented over the two days will contribute improving practice and ongoing ideas for how we can all save culture.
The conference had the patronage of Regione Piemonte, the Provincia di Alessandria, the Commune di Tortona, University of Bologna Department of the Arts, and Crocce Rossa Italiana.