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The 27 winners of the 2011 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards are announced today by the European Commission and Europa Nostra (see list of winners below). The awards will be presented on 10 June during a ceremony at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam 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. Out of the 27 winning projects, six will be named as 'grand prix' laureates at the ceremony as 2011’s most outstanding heritage achievements.
"Each of the winners represent the best of Europe’s achievements in conservation, research and education, as well as honouring dedicated service by individuals and groups. Cultural heritage is an essential part of our cultural diversity and shared history; it brings together our past, present and future. It has helped to make Europe the world's top tourist destination and contributes significantly to the Union's economy," said Commissioner Vassiliou.
"Without the combined skills and efforts of many professionals and volunteers and without the involvement of young people, Europe’s heritage doesn't have a future. These awards celebrate their love, passion, care and commitment for the preservation of the beauty and the soul of Europe," added Europa Nostra’s president, Plácido Domingo.
The 27 winners were selected from nearly 140 submitted projects in 31 countries. The final choice was made by juries composed of independent experts from across Europe. The six 'grand prix' winners each receive €10,000 and a plaque for the winning building or a trophy for projects.
Cultural heritage brings a significant – and often underrated – contribution to growth and job creation. The sector represents an important part of the cultural and creative industries, which provide jobs for 8.5 million people in the EU and contribute 4.5% to 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 Co-operation 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 €26 million in co-financing heritage projects since 2007. Other EU-funded programmes also provide support in this area: the European Regional Development Fund allocates €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 for 2007-2013; a further €89 million has been made available through EU Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development since 1998.