Cultural heritage, as it represents the material evidence of our past, is a strategic areafor policies at Community level, to support the integration process of the differentcomponents of Europe, through the recognition of the differences and similarities whichcharacterise local and national cultures and traditions. The conservation andvalorisation of cultural assets, however, requires more funds and effort than those thatthe public sector can provide. In some European countries more than in others, thesetasks are equally shared between the public and the private sector, i.e. the so-calledcivic society, usually on a voluntary basis, to ensure that places, monuments, sites,objects of cultural and historical value are passed on unharmed - or rather enhanced -to future generations, in order to contribute to the understanding of a shared commonpast and to the strengthening of ties among European citizens.It is imporant that the institutions involving these volunteers offer them adequatetraining, not only to provide them with the necessary skills needed to carry outsometimes very specialised tasks, but also to contribute to their growth as individuals, tothe development of their sense of belonging to a community and to their cultural identityas European citizens. To this end, the project sets out by acknowledging the increasingimportance of the voluntary sector for the preservation of the cultural heritage and therunning of cultural institutions, such as museums, and intends to explore thephenomenon at European level, identifying the different types of voluntary work which isprovided, the areas of activity in which cultural volunteers are engaged, with theobjective of designing training addressed both to the volunteers themselves and to thepeople in charge of running volunteer programmes (mentors) within culturalorganisations.
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