Awards Ceremony of the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage

Speech given at the Europa Nostra Awards. Oslo, 11.06.2015 (Check against delivery)

Your Royal Highness, Mr. Commissioner, Excellencies and distinguished guests. 

Dear friends 

Every morning when I wake up in my home city Lillesand  -- a small town at the southern coast of Norway  – I see a Europa Nostra Award winner outside my bedroom window. It is the City Hall. 

What a nice start of the day.

On the behalf of the Norwegian Government, it is a particular pleasure to welcome you to Norway in another city hall –the City Hall of Oslo. It is a highly symbolical building for the citizens of Oslo and of Norway. It is representing important architectural and artistic heritage.

The City Hall is in daily use for important purposes for the citizens of Oslo, Norway and the rest of the world. Every year on the 10th of December the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is taking place here in this hall.

Tonight we celebrate outstanding achievements. The award winners are quality projects. They also have added value. The projects can be a place of learning, create knowledge and skills. They can give people and local environments a sense of identity. It gives people possibilities.

Cultural Heritage are important resources. Valuable contributions to a better environment, people’s welfare, employment, economic and green growth. And regional and local development.

The economic potential and how to make it relevant for the future, are important questions. Both in Europe and Norway. Challenges and opportunities are shared across countries.

The award ceremony and congress this week are excellent examples of people sharing knowledge, good practice and ideas.

This week young crafters from 21 European countries meets here in Norway to work with traditional crafts and building techniques in wood.

On a visit to Latvia I experienced how important such a cooperation project can be. Funded by the EEA grants, young Norwegian students worked together with local students on restauration works at the oldest wooden synagogue in the Baltics. The Green Synagoge in Rezekne.

One of the students said it was an honor to work at the restoration project, to learn by practical experience.

Norway is an active member of the European Union programme for culture and audiovisual, Creative Europe. It contributes to the preservation and development of a common European cultural heritage. 

A result of the programme is the performance you saw in the courtyard. 

Both Creative Europe and the EEA and Norway Grants offer important possibilities for the cultural sector in Norway and in Europe. I am happy to see that those opportunities are being seized and that cooperation is prospering among European artists and cultural workers!

Together with these examples, the congress and award ceremony tonight shows how important it is to work together across Europe to find the good solutions, and share best practices.

However, this would not be possible without the help and commitment of the voluntary sector. As we say in Norwegian – you are ildsjeler– in English, enthusiasts or "leading lights".

You work with passion to safeguard cultural heritage. This congress is evidence to all the great work you do. Tonight, we also celebrate you.

One of the award winners this year is the Eidsvollbygningen. This building is the birthplace of the Norwegian democracy – congratulations to you, and all the other award winners.

On behalf of the Norwegian Government, I would like to say thank for your work and dedication -- and thank you for this opportunity to speak.

I wish you all a fruitful congress in Oslo.