Romanian Heritage Season: Action against Neglect, Exploitation and Erasure

10 - 24/03/2021 @ online | Website, Facebook page and YouTube channel

A flagship series of events throughout March examining the challenges of heritage conservation and preservation in Romania via the lens of three distinct cultural resources.

Initiatives and projects working on safeguarding, reviving and valorising the cultural heritage could ideally be reproduced and their experience converted into good practices throughout the country. The structural tensions between conservation and development, the resilience that continuous maintenance of the monuments asks for and ultimately, the existence and efficiency of solutions contribute to understanding the need for a long-term vision on reviving heritage in Romania. For this reason and not only, success stories should be told.

10 March, 17.00: Action against Neglect
A discussion on the broad challenge of built heritage protection and rehabilitation in Romania as witnessed through the work of Ambulanța pentru Monumente, Herculane Project and Pro Patrimonio. Guest speakers: Eugen Vaida, Oana Chirilă and Nicolae Rațiu, moderated by journalist Stephen McGrath.

Eugen Vaida is the President of Asociaţia Monumentum, initiators in 2016 of Ambulanța pentru Monumente. The aim of the project is to act efficiently for the preservation of immovable heritage by safeguarding important heritage monuments that are in an advanced state of decay or pre-collapse.

Oana Chirilă is an architect and Co-founder of Herculane Project, a platform for architectural and social reactivation of the historic 19th century Băile Herculane. Set up by the Locus Association, a non-governmental organisation that aims to save and promote the cultural, architectural, urban and natural heritage of Romania in the long term, its goal is to restore the site and have the spa resort Herculane included as a UNESCO recognised historical monument.

Nicolae Raţiu is the Founder and Chairman of Pro Patrimonio, which has been stepping in to help rebuild and strengthen isolated and disadvantaged communities across Romania for 20 years. Its objective is to recover and reintroduce currently abandoned heritage to economic and cultural purpose, restoring its identity and the bonds to the community.

Stephen McGrath is a Romania-based correspondent publishing writing and radio for the BBC, The Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian, Forbes and others. He has written about the impact of tourism on Viscri - the village loved by HRH Prince Charles - as well as covering the work of both Ambulanta pentru Monumente and Herculane Project.

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17 March, 17.00: Action against Exploitation

Romania is home to both Europe's largest contiguous forests and its greatest populations of large carnivores – a unique natural heritage under threat from over-exploitation. Agent Green, Bear Again and Foundation Conservation Carpathia are dealing with the consequences of this and campaigning for wilderness protection. Guest speakers: Cătălina Rădulescu, Gabriel Galgoczy and Christoph Promberger, moderated by writer and broadcaster Charlie Ottley.

Cătălina Rădulescu is the lawyer of Agent Green, a non-governmental and non-profit organisation for environmental protection, established in 2009. The aim of the organisation is to investigate environmental crimes, to expose them strategically and to promote solutions for the conservation of biodiversity and ensuring the well-being of future generations.

Gabriel Galgoczy is Head of Communications at Bear Again Rehabilitation Center for Orphan Bears, Europe’s only centre for the rehabilitation of orphan bears. Founded in 2014 in Romania’s Hășmaș Mountains, most bear cubs that reach its care have been separated from their mothers by logging activities. Its goal is to mimic nature as accurately as possible and give its rescues the best chance to develop and thrive when released into the wild. Since beginning its work Bear Again has saved over 150 bear cubs.

Christoph Promberger is the Co-founder and Executive Director, together with his wife Barbara Promberger, of Foundation Conservation Carpathia. FCC aims to create a world-class wilderness reserve in the Southern Romanian Carpathians, large enough to support significant numbers of large carnivores and to allow evolutionary processes to happen. The project consists of the wider Făgăraș Mountains Natura 2000 site, Piatra Craiului National Park and Leaota Mountain and forms a total of over 250,000 ha.

Charlie Ottley is the presenter and producer of the Wild Carpathia series, and co-producer of Flavours of Romania. Labelled “Romania’s Ambassador to the world”, he was awarded the Cultural Merit Order for the “important contribution in promoting the country’s image, and for the insight and interest shown in Romanian culture and civilization” by President Iohannis. He is currently filming a new documentary exploring the Danube Delta scheduled for release later this year.

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24 March, 17.00: Action against Erasure

Jewish heritage is orphaned heritage – existing in places now absent of Jewish communities. We'll learn about Jewish loss in Romania and hear from the Stanley Burton Centre, Tarbut Foundation and Templul Coral on the struggle to retain Jewish custom and culture in Romania. Guest speakers: Dr Raul Cârstocea, Peninah Zilberman, Gilbert Șaim, moderated by Michael Mail, Foundation for Jewish Heritage, with a special introduction by HE David Saranga, the Ambassador of Israel to Romania.

Dr Raul Cârstocea is an Honorary Fellow in Modern European History at the Stanley Burton Centre, a non-profit teaching and research centre within History at the University of Leicester, and the oldest Holocaust research centre in the UK. His work focuses on the intellectual, cultural and conceptual history of Central and Eastern Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, with an emphasis on state formation and nation-building processes, nationalism, anti-Semitism, fascism, and the Holocaust. His book, “Peasants into Fascists: Anti-Semitism and Fascism in the Ideology of the Legionary Movement in Interwar Romania” is forthcoming from Routledge.

Peninah Zilberman is the Founder & CEO of the Tarbut Sighet Foundation, an organisation founded in 2014 as commemoration of the 1944 Jewish deportations from Maramures and to keep alive the memory of the 40,000 Jews - and their art, culture and heritage - that lived in the region before the Holocaust. It oversees the Elie Wiesel Museum, the childhood home of the Nobel Prize winner, and a Memorial to the Jewish Life Cycle of the Pre-Holocaust Sighet Jewish Community.

Gilbert Șaim is the gabai (custodian) of the Templul Coral - Choral Temple Synagogue in Bucharest, a pearl of Jewish heritage and the pillar of religious and cultural Jewish life in Romania. Designed by Enderle and Freiwald and built between 1864-1866, the Choral Temple is a smaller replica of Vienna's Leopoldstadt-Tempelgasse Great Synagogue. Devastated by far-right Legionaries, it was restored after World War II, and its main hall was recently refurbished, re-opening in 2015.

Michael Mail is the Founder and Chief Executive of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage, a charity working internationally to ensure that important Jewish architectural sites, monuments and places of cultural significance in danger are preserved and re-imagined for a sustainable future. Amongst the Foundation’s featured synagogues is the Citadel Synagogue in Timișoara.

The series is produced in partnership with UK Romania Group, which promotes bilateral relations - mainly business and politics - between the UK and Romania, highlights Romanian accomplishment in the UK and publicises selected events of relevance to this community.

*All events will be in English and will be broadcasted live

Where: RCI London’s Facebook page and later recorded on YouTube channel