European heritage in our hands – Volunteering as mutual challenge and opportunity in civic society – a conference report

MUSIS would like to share the results of its international conference on volunteering in museums and cultural heritage, which took place from October 19–21, 2011 in Graz/Austria.

In some European states, voluntary work is already part of a functioning civic society and simultaneously an integral part of private life. In other systems of state, it is still a new, unfamiliar, but definitely a desirable artificial construct, which has to make its way into civic society. Next to states with organised structures and support from the public site, we often only find rudimentary regulations and a lack of a juridical basis.

European civic society ranges in this spectrum, following cultural traditions and specifically grown needs. While many Northern European countries already have an administrative authority for volunteers, the phenomenon of volunteering is hardly known in Eastern European countries. The continuing demographic, social and economic changes require consequences: not only geographical borders open. Formerly approved structures prove to be unsustainable in the future, new  structures have to be developed, which pave the way for sustainable cultural development.

As many presented projects showed, volunteering has a great influence on social development and social inclusion. Volunteering contributes to building bridges, to master social challenges and to do inclusive development work. The objective of the conference was to put a spotlight on volunteers and volunteering policy in Europe in the context of the European Year of Volunteering 2011.

Key note speakers offered their perspectives on valuing, managing and training of volunteers in museums and cultural heritage. Three main themes were discussed in the forum: “Volunteering in Europe – a country comparison”, “Volunteers as human resource – motivation, management and training”, “New functionality and role of volunteering within civil society”. The event encouraged all participants to consider and reflect upon where we need to go with volunteering policies on an EU, national and local level.

Presentation

Paper

Eva Lassnig, Austria

MUSIS – society to support museums and collections in Styria

eva.lassnig@musis.at


Bio

Eva Lassnig (1985) is studying English and American studies as well as European Ethnology at the University of Graz/Austria, with a focus on applied cultural studies and cultural management. She spent a year abroad at Manchester Metropolitan University/UK and is now working part time for MUSIS – society to support museums and collections in Styria/Austria.

At MUSIS, Eva is responsible for organising conferences and further trainings. Her biggest project so far was the organisation of an international conference on European heritage and volunteering. Eva is also responsible for database management and assisting in an inventory project.

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