The General-Directorate for Cultural Heritage (GDCH) has overall responsibility for setting up policies for intangible cultural heritage, including declaring elements as national heritage, administering the national inventory and a database of living heritage, and coordinating at national level initiatives led by various institutions active in the field of intangible cultural heritage. The Division for Immovable, Movable and Intangible Heritage has been the implementing body for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage since 2012.
Based on the study of legislative acts, policies, safeguarding strategies of other countries, the work of relevant international and regional organizations and national non-governmental organisations, regional cultural administrations, universities and museums, a new legislative framework was established in 2009–10 which combines the principles of the Cultural Heritage Act of 2001 with those of the 2003 Convention. This resulted in a decree law and ordinance that respectively provide the legal framework, fundamental principles and set out the methodological and scientific requirements for safeguarding and inventorying intangible cultural heritage.
With regard to safeguarding policy, a major emphasis is placed on taking an integrated approach towards safeguarding intangible cultural heritage that links it with tangible heritage and the physical environment. This approach advocates the joint documentation of intangible cultural heritage and tangible elements associated with it, the management of intangible cultural heritage together with associated movable objects and the joint legal protection of tangible elements linked to living heritage. The linkage between tangible and intangible heritage has been established in several World Heritage sites and in a project to register the traditional uses of plants in Forest Laurissilva in Madeira and the recovery of legends and traditional tales in Alto Douro Wine Region, among many others.
The GDCH provides short-term training for capacity-building in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, mainly for local and regional administrations, local museums and non-governmental organisations. Since 2013, the GDCH has collaborated with Universidade Aberta to offer a one-semester e-learning course for capacity-building on documentation of elements of intangible cultural heritage with involvement from communities, groups and individuals. GDCH has also published standards for inventorying and safeguarding, available online, that can be used as part of capacity-building training programmes.
Museums, especially ethnographic museums, play a key role as documentation institutions, alongside universities and research centres. The archives of the National Museum of Ethnology are particularly rich in documentation about intangible cultural heritage linked with moveable heritage. Undertaken in a participatory manner, documentation provides the basis for assessing feasibility of any safeguarding strategy or measure. Dedicated software was developed by national authorities in 2009–11 for this purpose. The Matriznet database for Portuguese Museums has documentation from several institutions available online. Other databases are the Tropical Historical Archive from the Institute of Scientific and Tropical Investigation and the Digital Library from Camões Institute for Portuguese Language and Culture. Two fundamental principles that apply with regard to access to information are freedom of access to information and the protection of intellectual property rights of communities who are bearers of traditions, which both need to be maintained.
Several research studies have been undertaken on intangible cultural heritage, as projects proposed by universities and public administration or as PhD theses (e.g. on the role of museums and inventory-making). With some universities now offering courses on the subject, it is expected that more research will be forthcoming in the future. Publication of research studies and organization of several national and international conferences have been supported by the GDCH. A survey of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Portugal’ was conducted by GDCH in cooperation with 494 institutions (museums, regional cultural directorates, municipalities and research centres) which has been a vital basis for the establishment of the National Inventory. Its website disseminates information on research and documentation.
There are two inventories, as follows: (1) The National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage was established in 2011 and is legally the main instrument for national safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, raising public awareness and fostering direct involvement of practitioners, non-governmental organisations and local institutions in the processes of identification, documentation, design and implementation of safeguarding measures. It has been operating online since 2011 and allows for completely digitalised inventorying providing a publicly accessible platform, designed by the GDCH, for Portuguese speaking countries. Within the National Inventory, there are two types of registration: (a) ‘inventory’ entries, as part of the legal safeguarding process, and (b) ‘urgent safeguarding’ entries for elements where viability is threatened. Entries must not only describe the element but also include an adapted safeguarding plan or measures and the applicant for registration is responsible for ensuring that these are carried out. Entries of both types should be updated at least every ten years in a participatory process. The National Inventory is not seen as a tool for managing heritage administration but rather for empowering communities, groups and individuals to safeguard and manage their intangible cultural heritage elements. (2) The Regional Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Azores is an adapted version of the National Inventory and its legal framework, and was adopted in 2012 by the regional government. It is intended as an inventory exclusively of elements from the archipelago of the Azores. Its concept, principles, methodology, data model and software are the same as those for the National Inventory.
A central tool for awareness-raising is the website of the National Inventory which disseminates a wide variety of information relating to intangible cultural heritage for different audiences. Conferences and seminars have been organised by the National Commission for UNESCO, the GDCH, regional directorates, universities, research centres and accredited non-governmental organisations. For example, a colloquium on proverbs was held by the International Association of Paremiology in 2014.
As an educational programme, national authorities have created a ‘Kit for Documentation of Intangible Heritage’ addressed to the general public and, in particular, young people. It has been disseminated to all schools and museums, as well as some associations and non-governmental organisations, and is available to download for free from the National Inventory website. The kit was conceived for use mainly in schools and museums’ educational departments in order to raise awareness about living heritage, the need for safeguarding it and the interdependence between tangible and intangible aspects of heritage. It was awarded the ‘Ibero-American Prize for Education and Museums’ in 2013 and in 2014, GDCH partnered with the Spanish Institute for Cultural Heritage to have it translated in Spanish and disseminated to Spanish-speaking countries. Non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations also carry out educational programmes on intangible cultural heritage: the INATEL Foundation provides several specific programmes related to intangible cultural heritage, such as ‘Archaeology of the Invisible’ aimed particularly at improving the curriculum in this area and fostering a diversity of approaches in the early years of schooling. The Foundation also provides arts and crafts workshops and courses on traditional musical instruments in several cities, as well as training in integrated tourism management for intangible cultural heritage. At the higher education level, postgraduate programmes on intangible cultural heritage and traditional know-how, anthropology, ethnomusicology and oral literature are offered.
Between 2008 and 2014, Portugal engaged in international cooperation from involvement with multinational nominations, organising international workshops, seminars and conferences, participation in networks of experts, cooperating in training activities, research and education projects and exchanges of information. These have been undertaken both at governmental level and through non-governmental organisations accredited to UNESCO and universities. For example, cooperation has been undertaken with training courses on documentation methods in Spain and Peru. The GDCH has also engaged in information exchange meetings with France, Belgium, Brazil, Poland, Uruguay and Spain involving accredited non-governmental organisations and governmental counterparts. INATEL Foundation is a representative member of the International Organisation of Councils of Folklore Festivals and Folklore Arts (CIOFF) and the Centre for Research in Anthropology has carried out research studies in several countries, both providing opportunities for peer-to-peer exchanges. Similarly, the accredited non-governmental organisation – Intangible Memory-Cultural Cooperative CRL – takes part in international seminars and a European storytelling festival while being the Portuguese focal point for an EU-funded project on storytelling and the environment.
Portugal has three elements inscribed on the Representative List, one of which is a multinational inscription: Fado, urban popular song of Portugal (2011); Mediterranean Diet (2013 with Cyprus, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Morocco and Spain); and Cante Alentejano, polyphonic singing from Alentejo, southern Portugal (2014). The last element is not covered by the current report.