About the project

Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage through transformative learning within community-based art, or HEART (Heritage Art) for short, is a European cooperation partnership co-funded by the EU Erasmus+ Programme.

Five project partners from across Europe will develop and test a fresh model for teaching intangible cultural heritage (ICH), with the aim of producing new tools for adult educators working with cultural heritage. The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, adopted in 2003, underlines the invaluable role of intangible cultural heritage in bringing human beings closer together and ensuring exchange and understanding among them, while maintaining cultural diversity and richness in the world.

ICH can be a fruitful starting point for a transformative learning process and for reflecting on one’s experiences, thoughts, feelings and assumptions about identity, culture and cultural diversity. Reflecting on the meaning of ICH for individuals, communities and organisations is also important to keep heritage living, lively and meaningful for the existing generations and for the next generations, too. Intangible cultural heritage is also linked to the environmental, social and economic realities of communities.

The project will explore these themes and situate them in a community-based art education context. A key part of the project work process will see pilot studies taking place in four European countries, where an art educator will work with local community members and heritage practicioners. Through the pilot group work process, we aim to develop and test a new way of engaging with cultural heritage through the use of communal art education methods, underpinned by the principles of transformative learning. We will explore the use and meaning of dialogue within a transformative, art-based learning process.

The main project outcome will be a digital toolkit for art educators, to facilitate working with heritage topics, incorporating digital technologies, and leading a transformative learning process. The toolkit will be aimed at educators, facilitators, and anyone wishing to work with intangible cultural heritage. It will include:

  • A clear, concise and accessible discussion of the theoretical basis for the educational methodology;
  • Teaching resources and practical guides;
  • Illustrative examples from the work of the project pilot groups.

It is also hoped that the pilot groups will themselves serve as valuable interventions in the regions in which they take place, increasing engagement with valuable aspects of ICH and empowering educators and learners on the ground.

The HEART project officially commenced in December 2022, and held its first transnational meeting in Oulu, Finland in February 2023. Pilot studies will take place in the latter half of 2023 with the aim of disseminating project outcomes the following year.