As in Hungary a bottom up system was set up for the developing of the national inventories, an important question have arisen at the very beginning: how to reach the bearers themselves.
The cooperation and efforts of local experts is crucial in order to identify, document and develop a system of local safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage elements, as well as to facilitate their promotion, transmission and access, and considered to be an axiom in the national implementation process in Hungary.
Different networks were established on the national level to link the coordinator institution – the Department of ICH of the Hungarian Open Air Museum, the local experts of different fields and the bearer communities.
Their main purposes are to raise awareness on the importance of safeguarding the ICH, to make the principles of the Convention 2003 more visible, to foster the exchange of different heritage-safeguarding measures and strategies, and gain the widest possible public attention for the importance of cultural diversity.
Networks of Experts
Network of County rapporteurs of ICH
Network of voluntary professionals
Network of Hungarian Professionals Abroad
At the turn of 2010 and 2011, while setting up the system of professional county rapportueurs, it was useful to draw on the former network of county museums. In each county, an expert was entrusted from among the county seat museum’s staff, to coordinate and facilitate the promotion, the awareness-raising and give professional guidance to the communities. The specific tasks are to be delegated, managed and coordinated by the Department of ICH.
Main responsibilities and tasks of the county coordinators for safeguarding ICH:
Raising awareness to the importance of the ICH,
initiating and coordinating the documentation of ICH elements in their county and region,
organizing local forums and meetings,
transmitting information to communities,
providing professional counseling to affected communities (for ex. the definition of ICH, process of nomination for the National Inventory),
linking the communities with the network of experts,
maintaining continuous contact with the Department of ICH,
participating in trainings and courses,
submitting annual reports to the Department of ICH.
The inaugural session of the network was in January 2011, giving a comprehensive training in ICH for the local professionals. Since then, two plenary meetings and workshops are held in each year, mostly at the Hungarian Open Air Museum in Szentendre. For the meetings, each rapporteur shall prepare a presentation and a report about the current situation at his or her county, summarizing all the measures taken since the last meeting, also introducing the bearer communities, who they started to cooperate with. These workshops also give the opportunity to discuss the problems which may have arisen during their work; for this matter, experts of different fields (ministry representatives, heritage experts, university professors etc.) are invited for almost every workshop.
There are also several informal meetings, field trips and opportunities for the rapporteurs to develop a close cooperation, collegiality and friendship to make the work together even more effective. A special, closed mailing list is also available for them, where not only the events, programs and material related to ICH is shared by the members, but also the calls for papers, conferences and workshops in various topics.
Since the establishment of the county rapporteur system, the Department of ICH has regularly offered local information forums, explaining the goals of the Convention, the most important points of its implementation internationally and in Hungary, presenting the UNESCO lists and the national inventories created in Hungary. Attending NGOs, professionals, local officians and heritage practitioners learn about the mechanism and criteria of nomination for the inventory. Local information forums are usually accompanied by a banner exhibition by the Department of ICH which presents the elements on the Hungarian National Inventory one by one, illustrates the UNESCO Convention and the Hungarian practice. Information material in booklet form is distributed at these forums.
Network of voluntary professionals
Besides the county rapporteurs, a network of voluntary professionals was also established, because the involvement and active participation of competent experts in a wide range of fields is essential for implementing and achieving the diverse tasks regarding the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage elements. This network makes up a database of individuals, groups and organizations involved in the field of intangible cultural heritage at both national and mainly local levels. Each expert contributes to and participates in the realization of specific tasks according to his or her own localization, field and area of expertise. The network includes members of non-governmental cultural organizations; individuals working in centers of culture, research and education as well as those managing museums and public collections; and those competent in any of the various domains of intangible cultural heritage, while also possessing a comprehensive knowledge of the given community or region, its attributes and cultural life.
Their main tasks could be:
Identification of local heritage
Elaboration of safeguarding measures
Guidance of the communities in the process of nomination
Raising awareness on the local level
Encouraging local educational programs
The database could be joined by anybody, because it is believed that every individual willing to help, whether to assist the communities, or to spread the word and making the principles of the Convention 2003 more visible, could be very important in the whole process of implementation. A form has to be filled out by each expert, stating their field of expertise and some contact info, which they agree to put on a publicly accessible database. This database in a revised form will be fully accessible on the new web page of ICH in Hungary to be launched in spring 2014, and for example communities interested in nominating an element, groups organizing an event could freely search for an expert suitable for them.
Network of Hungarian professionals abroad
The Department of ICH extended its expert network to neighbouring countries. In order to help raising awareness on the Hungarian-related ICH, forums were organised for local professionals in touch with local communities who can thus help information flow and increase chances of inscription. At the first session, July 2010, a proposal was drafted for state decision makers about safeguarding heritage items in the countries affected, highlighting possibilities inherent in bilateral co-operation.
The second session in the fall of 2011 took the form of further training on information and methodology for heritage management and the options contained in the Convention 2003. Heritage protection was taught in theory and practice. Introductory lectures described the emergence of the Convention, implementation in Hungary, traditions of the Matyó embroidery, the process of nomination and then restorers of the Hungarian Open Air Museum described the safeguarding of tangible items.
Connecting the bearers – the Circle and Forum of ´Consciously Heritage-Safeguarding Communities´
In 2009, the Department of ICH also established the Circle of Consciously Safeguarding Communities (Tudatos Örökségvédő Közösségek Köre ‘TÖKK’) for communities inscribed on the National Inventory. TÖKK provides further trainings and guidance to these communities and serves as a forum for exchange of experiences and ideas about the preservation of their heritage and about the process of nomination to the National Inventory.
The forums focus on presentation, analysis and methods for application of safeguarding practices, as well as debate on various pertinent issues. Communities present their own safeguarding strategies offering their learning to benefit other communities. Besides, these sessions discuss thematic issues, focusing on a particular predetermined aspect. One example was discussing the legal aspects of practising the intangible cultural heritage.
Communities mutually invite each other to their events, gaining first hand experience of the practice of heritage safeguarding, learning from each other's methods, safeguarding strategies and the forms of heritage protection on the non-governmental and the institutional level.
The responsible institution for the professional coordinating of the UNESCO Convention in Hungary:
Intangible Cultural Heritage Directory of the Hungarian Open Air Museum