At the annual EFFORTS (European Federation of Fortified Sites) congress held on November 19th, the Fortress of Culture played a dual role - a partner in the organization and one of the main speakers. The congress was supposed to take place in Šibenik, but due to the pandemic it was held online. A series of presentations on the topic Fortified heritage post-COVID-19: potentialities and opportunities of valorization brought together representatives of about fifty European fortresses and cities, mostly managers of fortification heritage.
After the welcome speeches, the results of the research on the socio-economic impacts of fortification heritage in Europe were presented. The concept of the survey was created in cooperation between the Fortress of Culture and EFFORTS, and the results were presented by Đurđa Vrljević Šarić (Fortress of Culture).
Managers of fortification heritage facilities, representatives of cities and municipalities of public institutions, private companies and organizations from twelve European countries participated in research. The result have shown that most European managers are investing (or have invested) in the restoration and refurbishment of their sites, conduct archaeological research, and interpret and present the results through digital technologies to attract as many visitors as possible. In addition, they are creating special programs, the number of which in 2020 was significantly lower than the previous years (due to the pandemic). Accordingly, the number of visitors was reduced also.
Discussion of the survey conclusions brought positive visions for the future: fortification sites are perceived as bearers of historical stories, places of knowledge and creativity, and their valorization and further development generate positive microeconomic effects for the local community and beyond. The conducted survey is only the first step in creating the concept of a comprehensive quantitative study on the socio-economic effects of fortification heritage, which EFFORTS and its partners will continue to prepare in 2021.
In their presentations on the activities carried out at their locations in this uncertain and challenging year, the other partners also touched on the impact of the environment, highlighting the current opportunities and opportunities that open up in the future.
Finally, the European Fortress Day (EFD), which was held in a slightly different edition this year, was mentioned. Due to the pandemic and the closure of numerous sites, the EFD was marked by specially created programs throughout the summer, which the sites organized depending on their capabilities. The organizers of the congress pointed out that 2020 is specific due to numerous challenges and problems in the functioning of the identified sites, so the EFFORTS annual award was given to all sites involved in the EFD during the pandemic.