Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.C.4

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Croatia has proposed Community project of safeguarding the living culture of Rovinj/Rovigno: the Batana Ecomuseum (No. 01098) for selection and promotion by the Committee as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention:

A batana is a type of traditional fishing boat found in Rovinj, Croatia. Important to the town’s trade and heritage, with craftsmanship methods handed down by families, it became scarce with the popularity of industrial models until 2004 when local enthusiasts started an association to help safeguard it and its associated practices (an old dialect and traditional songs). The not-for-profit House of Batana, with the support of the municipality, the Heritage Museum of the City of Rovinj, Rovinj Historic Research Centre, the Italian Community of Rovinj and an eco-museology expert created the Batana Ecomuseum to raise public awareness and provide training on practices linked to the batana. It features a permanent exhibition showcasing how the batana is built and fishing equipment is made, as well as the variety of fishing activities conducted; runs workshops on constructing the boat, also available for shipbuilders; publishes expert material; hosts regattas encouraging involvement from young people; has a shipyard for building and repairing the boats that are now also used for guided tours; and cooperates on a national and international level, taking part in festivals, regattas and roundtable discussions to highlight the batana’s role in traditional vessel communities and to help safeguard maritime heritage.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the programme responds as follows to the criteria for selection as a best safeguarding practice in paragraph 7 of the Operational Directives:

P.1:   The file adequately describes the proposed initiative – the Batana Ecomuseum – whose aim was to study, preserve and evaluate memories and everyday life linked to batana culture. The file outlines the situation that led to this project (including recent changes in the community’s life – urbanization and newly settled inhabitants, tourism and the use of plastic materials in boat making). It describes the implementation of the project and lists the safeguarding actions: documentation, continuity of tradition, promotion, education, research and transmission, a dictionary of the local Italian dialect, preservation of a small shipyard, regattas, water front trails, and training for shipbuilders. The communities involved are identified as the initiators of the project and bearers of the specific intangible cultural heritage. Based on one local element, the entire cultural space encompassing kindred intangible and tangible cultural traditions was revitalized and community well-being enhanced.

P.2:   Although a local and primarily national project in its scope, the file indicates that the Batana Ecomuseum is meant to raise awareness of the role of the batana boat as an important link with traditional vessels and related local communities in the Adriatic and Mediterranean seas, and to raise awareness of batana boats as vehicles for intercultural dialogue. The project, therefore, actively contributes to international initiatives aimed at protecting maritime heritage (cooperation with other museums, international competitions, and hosting national and international meetings on documenting and safeguarding relevant heritage).

P.3:   The file demonstrates that the museum reflects the principles of the Convention: wide involvement of the community in the safeguarding of its living traditions; role of this heritage in its development; raising awareness of the importance of the town’s intangible cultural heritage at local, national and international levels; transmission and educational programmes; commitment to inventorying; expert involvement; and academic research about diverse aspects of the element. The Ecomuseum indeed provides a good example of effective self-management following new museology concepts to foster the valorization of the local community’s intangible cultural heritage.

P.4:   The file asserts that the Ecomuseum has been effective in a number of ways: new boats constructed and in use (for both traditional and new purposes – fishing, excursions and regattas/sport); a revival of complementary traditions and skills (oral traditions and dialect); inscription in the national inventory; new motivation for the youth (international regatta and new learning methods). The programme has thus contributed to ensuring the viability of cultural heritage in general, as well as of the element itself. Large groups of people have been involved in the project and youth have bonded with the element and their wider heritage, ensuring their continuity. The submitting State has clearly demonstrated that the threatened intangible cultural heritage of the Batana boat tradition has been effectively and sustainably revitalized.

P.5:   The file clearly states that the community concerned started and implemented the project. Community representatives are currently members of the museum’s management team and run all its activities (workshops, educational programmes, and regattas). The local community and the Ecomuseum prepared all the material for the nomination, with help from the Ethnographic Museum of Istria and from the Ministry of Culture. Letters of consent from the communities concerned are appended.

P.6:   The file proposes a model based on: a bottom-up initiative involving the entire community; inclusion of different aspects of living traditions to re-engage with the heritage of a local community; involvement of professionals; positive engagement and implications for the community’s current life/daily activities; and creation of local, national and international networks. In addition, an ecomuseum may provide a suitable organizational model and forging the widest networks appears essential both for the viability of the project and to sustain intercultural dialogue.

P.7:   The Batana Ecomuseum has already been sharing its experience nationally and internationally through meetings (conferences and round tables), events (regattas and competitions), and non-formal visits. Its website allows open access to its information. The bearers of Rovinj intangible cultural heritage, representatives of the local community and authorities express their readiness to continue sharing their experiences with others (signed letters have been provided to this effect). The Ecomuseum states a wish to establish long-term relationships with other communities in the world to foster intercultural dialogue. Inspiration for similar projects elsewhere can be drawn from this case study.

P.8:   The proposal presents concrete examples of assessments that are being carried out. The Ecomuseum’s safeguarding activities are evaluated by the local community on an annual basis, and the activities that are externally supported are evaluated by the Ministry of Culture and other institutions. The museum has received several local and international awards, and these provide another assessment tool. Since some of the intangible cultural heritage elements that are managed by the museum are inscribed into the National Registry of Cultural Goods, they are also monitored by the Ministry of Culture.

P.9:   The file suggests that most of the steps and models it describes are also relevant to developing countries (a bottom-up approach, inclusiveness, and formal and non‑formal education to heighten youth interest in their heritage). The organizational model of an eco-museum may also be relevant, although countries may lack the necessary legislation. An interdisciplinary approach could bring new ideas and force a search for innovative means of support and funding. The Ecomuseum’s connection with similar projects proved to be important for local community empowerment.

  1. Selects Community project of safeguarding the living culture of Rovinj/Rovigno: the Batana Ecomuseum as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention and commends the submitting State for highlighting the successful link between revitalizing an element of intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development, with an impact on an entire community.