A European Capital of Culture is a city designated by the European Union for a period of one calendar year during which it organises a series of cultural events with a strong pan-European dimension. It is a great opportunity for a city to generate considerable cultural, social and economic benefits and it can help foster urban regeneration, change the city’s image and raise its visibility and profile on an international scale. Multiple cities can be a European Capital of Culture simultaneously. In 2023, apart from Timișoara, two other European cities hold this honourable title: Elefsina (Greece) and Veszprém (Hungary).
Timișoara is the capital city of Timiș County and the main economic, social and cultural centre in western Romania. Located on the Bega River, is considered the informal capital city of the historical Banat. The Banat region has formed a diverse cultural palette over the centuries, being the place that currently hosts over 30 cultural communities, among which are Romanians, Germans, Hungarians, Serbians, Croatians, Italians, Spaniards and Bulgarians. This cultural palette is the added value of the city since it established the emergence of public entities dedicated especially to European citizens settled in Timişoara. By designating Timişoara with the title of European Capital of Culture for the year 2023, the city shaped its objectives, focusing on the people’s influence on the community in which they live. Thus, it aims to become a city where cultural excellence prevails, providing its citizens with the confidence that through involvement and participation, they will be able to produce significant changes in the city.
The International Forum on Historical Centres: „Heritage Connects People and Places” will be held on Saturday, 22 April 2023. The forum is organised by the Romanian Order of Architects, Europa Nostra and Asociația Prin Banat (Europa Nostra member) in cooperation with the Timișoara Municipality, the Timiș County Council. It has the support of the Romanian Order of Architects, the Timiș branch, the Creative Europe programme of the European Union and European Heritage Days, a joint programme by the Council of Europe and the European Commission.
The morning session of the forum will be dedicated to a Masterclass on Diversity and Inclusion in the cultural heritage field. It takes place thanks to the support of the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union through Europa Nostra’s Network project European Cultural Heritage Agora “Empowering Europe’s Civil Society Movement for Heritage”. The Masterclass will offer participants insight into successful case studies and equip them with the skills to better engage harder-to-reach audiences and to implement models of participatory governance for heritage. Case studies will include the empowerment of women in the heritage field, the awareness-raising of Roma heritage, and urban regeneration through the recovery of heritage. Workshops will allow participants to delve into these themes at a deeper level.
The afternoon session will be dedicated to contemporary issues facing built heritage in historic town centres. Historic centres are facing increasing challenges, whether they concern the environment and climate, social pressures, cultural needs or how to strike a balance between these factors. How can we make historic centres liveable and attractive places to live and visit? Where is the middle ground between preserving heritage as a hallmark of identity and allowing for inner city development? How can we optimise domestic comfort via technical solutions for increased thermal efficiency, for example, or improved urban design? A lack of local and national policies for built heritage interventions in historic centres has further hindered progress on these challenges. A number of case studies that illustrate these major themes from Romania and Europe will be presented and will be further discussed.