Decision of the Bureau: 10.COM 2.BUR 5.1

The Bureau,
  1. Recalling Chapter V of the Convention and Chapter I of the Operational Directives,
  2. Having examined Document ITH/15/10.COM 2.BUR/5, as well as file No. 00916,
  3. Takes note that Albania has requested International Assistance for Safeguarding the Albanian ‘Epos of the heroes’ (Eposi i Kreshnikëve):

The project aims at safeguarding ‘Epos of the heroes’ through documentation, awareness-raising and promotion among the communities concerned, especially youth. The Epos is a cycle of legendary songs accompanied with a local string instrument called lahuta. Sung in the Gheg dialect, the Epos represents a form of traditional poetry, which is currently practised in several regions of the country. The Epos has been typically sung in guest rooms, men’s assemblies, as well as at various social occasions, without providing material compensation for the singers. Since the 1990s, the Epos has faced challenges that have affected its current viability and transmission, notably because of large scale emigration from regions where Epos has been traditionally practised but also because of a decrease in the number of lahuta-making craftspeople. The situation has resulted in a rupture of the traditional mode of transmission from father to son, which has been substituted for other forms of formal transmission modes. The proposed project focuses, for a duration of 12 months, on the identification of bearers and practitioners of the element, the publication of an encyclopaedia on Epos and the organization of concerts and school contests. The project is said to contribute to the highlighting of the potential of the ‘Epos of the heroes’ to serve as a vector for social development of the region and to attract tourists.

  1. Further takes note that this assistance concerns support for a project carried out at national level aimed at the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in accordance with Article 20 of the Convention, and that it takes the form of the granting of a donation in line with Article 21 (g) of the Convention;
  2. Also takes note that Albania requested an allocation of US$24,800 from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for implementation of the project;
  3. Decides that, from the information provided in file No. 00916, the request responds as follows to the criteria for granting International Assistance given in paragraphs 10 and 12 of the Operational Directives:
Criterion A.1: For the implementation, involvement of the stakeholders are foreseen in both of the main activities, namely the preparation of an encyclopaedia and the organization of concerts and school contests, as well as in the monitoring and evaluation; the request does not clearly demonstrate whether the Albanian Music Council, which initiated the project, consulted the communities, groups and individuals concerned during its elaboration.

Criterion A.2: The overall amount requested seems to adequately cover the proposed activities.

Criterion A.3: The two main activities proposed are adequately described and seem realistic within the time provided; it is understood that the funds are requested for these two activities even though the request refers to a number of other activities in which participation of communities, groups and individuals as well as national institutions and experts are solicited, such as the development of tourism-related programmes, capacity-building of the making of musical instruments and the promotion of the element through exhibitions; the request refers to ‘outstanding performers of Epos’, i.e. on the exceptional talent of individual practitioners rather than on the function and meaning of intangible cultural heritage for the communities concerned.

Criterion A.4: The State Party plans a set of activities, in the field of promotion, education or national designation of the element, to be implemented after the termination of the project in order to sustain lasting results in favour of the safeguarding of the Epos.

Criterion A.5: The State Party shares 3% of the overall budget of the project for which International Assistance is requested; the project benefits from a substantial contribution from another contributor that represents 36% of the budget.

Criterion A.6: The proposed project envisages building capacities of national institutions, notably the National Centre for Inventory and the Institute of Cultural Anthropology, in safeguarding knowledge and skills related to the Epos; the request does not describe in what ways the capacities of the communities, groups and individuals will be enhanced through the project.

Criterion A.7: Albania benefited from 2006 to 2010 from UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust for the project ‘Safeguarding Albanian Folk-Iso-polyphony’. Furthermore, it also received International Assistance in the amount of US$24,500 from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for a project entitled ‘Inventory of Albanian folk iso-polyphony’. Until now, Albania has provided the work stipulated by the terms of reference of the contracts signed under these projects and in line with UNESCO’s regulations.

Paragraph 10 (a): The project is national in scope and involves national implementing partners.

Paragraph 10 (b): The Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and the Academy of Sciences, the Ministry of Tourism as well as administrations at the local level are said to be ready to continue supporting the activities in favour of safeguarding the Epos after the termination of the project; some of the activities foreseen include the development of tourism around the enactment of the Epos.

  1. Decides not to approve the International Assistance request from Albania for Safeguarding the Albanian ‘Epos of the heroes’ (‘Eposi i Kreshnikëve’) (No. 00916);
  2. Encourages the State Party, should it wish to resubmit the request, to revise the content and approach of the project taking into account the concerns raised above and to take advantage of on-going capacity-building activities in the country to elaborate a request fully in line with the 2003 Convention.