It is an international convention that so far (September 2017) has been ratified, approved or accepted by 175 countries. It is the result of international discussions concerning cultural heritage and especially those cultural aspects that do not have a tangible, material dimension (e.g. music, dance, knowledge and techniques etc). Greece ratified the Convention in 2006.
It is the filing of elements of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Greece in the form of an inventory (as the Convention dictates). The aim of the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Greece is to give the bearers of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (communities, groups, even individuals) the opportunity to share their own cultural experience on a national and international level, to talk about their collective identity, to formulate proposals for the studying and, above all, the safeguarding of their intangible cultural heritage.
The National Directory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Greece aims to be a reliable reflection and to provide an up-to-date presentation of the intangible cultural heritage of Greece by giving the opportunity to the communities of bearers of intangible cultural heritage to present aspects of their identity which they consider to be important . It is deliberately not structured on thematic, geographic or other criteria. Instead, the visitors have the ability to browse the Index by starting with the topics of their most interest and creating their own personalized “browsing” path. In the course of the tour, they may find that one element may direct them to another element, other external sources of information (texts, photographs, videos, maps, etc.), and they can of course go deeper, if desired, in various aspects of the intangible cultural heritage, for example, referring to relevant literature, etc. They are also given the opportunity to communicate with the bearers of the intangible cultural heritage that represent the community.
The Form is divided into eleven subfields, each of which gives the opportunity for particular aspects of the element to develop. Several of these fields include multiple subfields.
The Directorate of Modern Cultural Assets and Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture and Sports is responsible for managing and updating the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Greece and of its website. The same Directorate is also responsible for the implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO (2003) in Greece.
No, scientific and other bodies have set up or can establish directories of intangible cultural heritage.
The Directorate of Modern Cultural Assets and Intangible Cultural Heritage organizes awareness raising actions for the public on all issues related to the Convention and its implementation in our country. The meetings, organized jointly with local government authorities and other organizations (cultural organizations, associations, museums, etc.) include a detailed presentation of the opportunities offered to the bearers of intangible cultural heritage to contribute to the study, promotion and above all safeguarding of their heritage.
An important requirement is the element of intangible cultural heritage to be functionally integrated into the live cultural experience of a community of bearers as it is transmitted from generation to generation and to be recognized by the same community as an important element of its collective identity. Another requirement is the informed consent and voluntary participation of the community of bearers in the inscription process.
Finally, it should be noted that every element proposed for inscription on the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Greece must comply with the general principles of both the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (UNESCO, 2003) (to promote peaceful coexistence between peoples, to be compatible with the objectives of sustainable development, to respect the rights of living organisms, etc.) and of the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Once these conditions are met, the next step is to fill in the form of the element of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
No, the concern to safeguard the element of intangible cultural heritage does not arise from such a commitment, but from the self-conscious intention of the community itself to safeguard its cultural heritage, because it considers it is important.
Inscription of an element on the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage is by no means an end in itself. The inscription aims in highlighting the importance of intangible cultural heritage and presenting it to the members of the community, as well as to the wider public (domestic and international)- and especially to the younger generations. The involvement of the community in drawing up plans for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage where it is considered necessary, is of high importance.
It is a long-term planning of required actions in order to highlight the importance of an element of intangible cultural heritage, both for the community itself and for the wider domestic and international public. The main objective of a safeguarding plan can only be to transmit the values and collective memory of the community as expressed in its intangible cultural heritage to the younger generations.
In developing and implementing a safeguarding plan it is necessary to actively involve the local community – the bearers of the intangible cultural heritage, as well as the administration and the relevant scientific and other bodies. Safeguarding does not mean preserving a genuine form of an element of intangible cultural heritage. On the contrary, it approaches the heritage as something constantly evolving and reimagined through complex social and cultural processes.
No, the submission of Greece’s nomination files to one of the three lists of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO (2003) is part of a wider planning which takes into account various parameters. Also, since they are lists of an international convention, the competent departments of the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs are also involved. However, the condition for submitting a nomination file on behalf of the member states of the Convention is the inclusion of the proposed element in their national inventory.
Because the various aspects of our intangible cultural heritage are living and integral elements of our collective identity and memory, they are the most vital elements of our self-awareness and contribute decisively to the continuity and cohesion of communities and societies as a whole. With every facet of the intangible cultural heritage that is lost, there is not only a path that links us to the past that is lost, but an open window in the future that closes, especially for the younger generations!