14.COM 10.B.4

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that Belgium has nominated Ommegang of Brussels, an annual historical procession and popular festival (No. 01366) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Ommegang of Brussels, an annual historical procession and popular festival takes place annually over two evenings in July in the historic centre of Brussels. The celebration begins with a crossbow competition and a ceremony in Sablon Church. In the surrounding streets, various groups form a large procession. The procession follows a 1.5 km route through the city to the Grand-Place, where the groups join the Magistrate of Brussels and bearers of various forms of living heritage. Together, they march around and some groups partake in an organic performance that has evolved since 1930. Having originated as a religious event in 1348, the tradition declined in the 18th century and the modern Ommegang was then recreated in 1928-1930 based on descriptions of the procession Charles V attended in 1549. Nowadays, the tradition has evolved into a festive, local heritage event. Among the participants are various groups of volunteers who meet and prepare their roles together, encouraging younger members to get involved. These groups have become club associations which, during the Ommegang in early July, meet and socialize with other groups. Children attend with their parents, and many people have been involved for forty or fifty years. The viability of the practice is constantly monitored, and the association overseeing the Ommegang is continuously engaged in preparing and promoting the next event.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   The Ommegang of Brussels supports local identity and strengthens social and community ties among the people of the city, inspiring a spirit of solidarity and friendship among participants and attendees. The element confirms the human fabric of the historic and cosmopolitan city of Brussels and is directly related to a World Heritage property – La Grand-Place, Brussels –, which houses one of the main events of the element.

R.2:   The inscription of Ommegang would ensure the visibility of intangible cultural heritage at the local, national and international levels. It would also make an important contribution to raising awareness of intangible cultural heritage in urban contexts as well as drawing attention to the link between intangible heritage and built heritage. The element is practised not only by French-speaking people but also by Dutch-speaking residents of Brussels and surrounding areas and immigrant communities. Dialogue between the organizers of this and similar festivities abroad has already taken place and will be further encouraged.

R.3:   The permanent work of the association Ommegang Oppidi Bruxellensis and of many groups of practitioners has ensured the safeguarding of the element over the decades, as well as the support of the City of Brussels. The State Party has presented pertinent, feasible and structured safeguarding measures with clear objectives, which will strengthen the viability of the Ommegang and that have been developed with the participation of the communities. A new safeguarding committee is to be established to supervise the element and control the risk of its potential commercialization.

R.4:   Ommegang Oppidi Bruxellensis, which organizes and produces the procession, along with the groups involved and the many institutions and groups that support its realization have participated and given their consent to the nomination of the element, which brings together more than 1,200 participants.

R.5:   Ommegang was included in the Inventory of Brussels’ intangible cultural heritage in 2017 and in the Inventory of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation’s intangible cultural heritage in 2010. Both inventories have mechanisms that encourage the participation of practitioners and community members.

  1. Decides to inscribe Ommegang of Brussels, an annual historical procession and popular festival on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Party for a well-prepared file that can serve as a good example of how the inscription of an element on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity can contribute to ensuring the visibility and awareness of the significance of intangible cultural heritage;
  3. Further commends the State Party for proposing an element that demonstrates the close link between tangible and intangible heritage in an urban context, especially in a World Heritage property.

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