Brief history of the project
CeRamICa is the result of a long cooperation and collaboration of some cities. Hódmezővásárhely, the Lead partner (LP) and its twin city, Vallauris, have been working together for decades to preserve their long traditions of ceramic art and crafts. Based on this, they decided at their joint exhibition "Ceramic art of Vallauris Golfe-Juan and Hódmezővásárhely" in June 2007 to widen their cooperation and join forces to not just preserve, but also revive and economically strengthen the ceramics and small craft sectors.
Other twin cities, Baia Mare and Turda have later also joined the idea, as they all share common problems, difficulties and objectives. Namely, having an old, traditional sector in need of revival and economical strengthening which could make it a driving force of the local/regional economies. The decision to join forces was then materialised into the development of the CeRamICa INTERREG IVC project.
The project partnership was then put together with some fundamental criteria in mind. All joining partners had to be local or regional public authorities, or bodies representing them, with common objectives and interests, namely a strong ceramics and / or small crafts tradition which they wish to valorise and boost, but which they would not be able to achieve on their own.
Furthermore, the LP wanted to build on the differences of the partners' backgrounds and experiences as well. Therefore, partners from Eastern and Western Europe were sought to bring different professional focus and know how to the project and enrich the exchange and transfer of experiences between them. Partners were found either within the LP’s network of Ceramic Cities, or through the Lisbon opening conference of the INTERREG IVC programme and the INTERREG IVC website's Project Idea and Partner Search Database.As the LP took the development of this project seriously, it appointed a “shadow Project Management Team” assisted by external experts in interregional projects development and management. Consequently, partners were heavily involved in the project proposal developement process. Several bilateral meetings and consultations, online and telephone conferences were organised. Furthermore, the project partnership met twice in Budapest, in September and in November 2007. All through the process, partners discussed the project proposal's elements, each partners' roles and responsibilities and the project's planned budget in detail, making sure that the final project is the result of common agreements and objectives and meets the partner’s expectations. The project was also consulted at the Katowice Information Point's Lead Partner seminar.
Problem description and the issue addressed
Many European cities and regions can boast of deep-rooted cultural traditions in the field of art ceramics and small crafts. Preserving cultural values and cultural heritage has since long been a priority area for the European Union.
However, besides preservation, cultural heritage is a major asset in economic terms for European regions: it also generates jobs, household income and stimulates local economic development.
Towns of ceramic and small craft traditions, endowed with a rich artistic heritage, are nevertheless facing severe problems: globalisation that exacerbates competition and ageing population of craftsmen, both leading to a continuous decline of the sector. Traditional ceramic is struggling to survive and small workshops and art galleries are closing by the year.
Preservation and valorisation of these traditions in the 21st century impose a serious challenge. This challenge cannot be overcome locally, but through Europe-wide cooperation. Besides the direct economic effects and the loss of European cultural traditions, the negative side effects on tourism are of great concern as well. The local economies strongly rely on cultural tourism that also depends on the vitality of the ceramic and small crafts sector.
The ceramic and small crafts sector is labour intensive and it is mainly composed of very small enterprises. Professional associations in Europe or bodies such as the World Crafts Council Europe provide support trying to strengthen the status of crafts as a vital part of cultural and economic life.
However, partners recognise that the specificity of this cultural and economic sector requires appropriate public support to be translated into local and regional public policies and development plans. Such policies or plans are either ineffective or non existent.
That is why the partners have decided to join forces and share their experiences and best practices to jointly develop recommendations for local and regional development policies.
None of the Municipalities in the project or any other region in Europe has had the capacity to develop on their own new and effective strategies to promote and valorise this sector and ensure long term sustainable development.
The great added value of the CeRamICa project is the strength of a Europe wide cooperation and the opportunity it offers to develop effective public policies and tools based on each other's experiences. This will contribute substantially to the territorial development of the partner regions. It will contribute to the economic modernisation and increased competitiveness of this specific economic sector forming a significant part of the European cultural heritage.
Thus, CeRamICa is perfectly in line with Priority 2 of the INTERREG IVC Programme, operational objective 6 “Enhancing the attractiveness of the territory in support of socio economic development by protecting the cultural heritage”
In addition, the project addresses interrelated issues that are in line with Priority 1 of the Programme, in particular operational objectives relating to entrepreneurship and SMEs and objective 7 “creating the necessary framework conditions for regional economies to adapt to major socio economic changes, notably globalisation and demographic changes”.
All artners are municipalities or bodies representing them, with decision making power to ensure further implementation of policies and instruments. They all have a common cultural heritage in the ceramic and small crafts sector and face the same difficulties. The partnership offers a good balance between Eastern and Western countries which will enrich the exchange and transfers of experience between them.
The Municipalities will work closely with other professional organisations and associations - Tourism boards, associations of ceramics, chambers of commerce, training centres and schools- to find appropriate methodologies and approaches endorsed by the whole community to ensure long term development of the sector.
Objectives of the project
The objective of the CeRamICa project is to jointly develop local and regional development strategy recommendations and instruments to support and boost the ceramics and small crafts sectors in the partners' regions, offering operative models to all Europe.These sets of recommendations will be drawn with the aim of preserving and revitalising this significant European cultural heritage and thus making this sector a competitive driving force of the local economies.
The sub-objectives of the project are:
1. To exchange and jointly develop innovative tools and approaches that successfully led to creation of new or innovative products, new markets for enterprises in the ceramic and small craft sector, more jobs or better and adapted training, promotion campaigns and investments.
2. To share, exchange and organise intensified transfers of experiences, knowledge and know-how between partners’ regions on jointly selected best practices and approaches
3. To exchange and jointly develop specific instruments to assist women and disabled in creating or developing an economic activity in the sector
4. To promote and valorise the ceramic and small craft sector
5. To involve throughout the project’s lifetime relevant local, regional and European stakeholders outside the project for exchange, input and dissemination of project outputs (such as EC, Regional Programmes managers, Managing Authorities, Associations of Craftsmen, Associations of Ceramic Cities, Chambers of commerce, Designers, other Industries representatives such as the Tourism Industry closely linked to the sector)
6. Local and Regional politicians of the project Political Board to validate policy recommendations for implementation in the regional Structural Funds programmes (Convergence or Competitiveness) and further long lasting cooperation
Approach and methodology
CeRamICa proposes an integrated and cross sectorial approach addressing 2 programme sub-themes: Cultural Heritage (the sector is a common cultural heritage to all partners) and Entrepreneurship and SMEs (promotion and support of enterprises and jobs in the sector).
Dissemination events are designed to ensure continuous involvement of local, regional and European stakeholders to capitalise on best practices at partners’ level and transfer them.
As for the flow of the project’s activities, after an operative meeting and official opening in Hódmezővásárhely, Hungary, the project starts with SWOT & market analyses of the sector by each partner under LP's close guidance and orientation. All relevant stakeholders will be interviewed and best practices that led to tangible results identified. Findings will be presented and debated on at regional stakeholders' seminars. 1st draft of policy recommendations and catalogues of best practices will be drawn by each partner and synthesized by LP, to be presented at the 1st Interregional Conference, organised in Vallauris, France.
The Political Board and all other stakeholders exchange experiences based on findings at regional levels. The event includes a “fair” where partners offer best practices to transfer and seek for best practices to import. 24 interregional meetings for intensified transfers of experiences are expected to be decided on. 12 groups of 2-3 partners will be set up, each responsible for the transfer of at least 2 best practices during a 12 month-period. Each group will appoint a group leader in charge of reporting on progress to the Project Manager, with whom they will have video conference progress meetings monthly.
This phase is crucial in the project. Partners learn from each other’s experiences, acquire and adopt new methodologies, processes, techniques that will contribute to achieving the same objectives: to promote and boost the Ceramics and Small Craft sector, i.e. to develop new products, open up new markets, identify effective marketing and training, create new jobs and enterprises, provide support to women.
At the end of this phase each partner draws their 2nd draft of the policy recommendations, including draft implementation plans into mainstreams / other EC programmes.
A 2nd Interregional Conference will be organised in Alcobaça, Portugal, to exchange experiences and findings. Regional policy recommendation papers will be thoroughly discussed and fine-tuned. Each partner will then launch the process of endorsement of their policy recommendation paper locally.
The Final Conference of CeRamICa will be a major closing event. The project's results will be presented to a wide audience including EC officials, MAs, MEPs and politicians from other regions. A complete set of policy recommendations will be made available to include successful best practices, strategies and innovative approaches, ready to be transferred to other European regions. The Political Board will agree on further cooperation between the project partners to capitalise on the project's tangible results.