European Showmen’s Union submits application for recognition of European fairground culture to UNESCO

The European Showmen’s Union (ESU) has submitted its application for recognition of the living fairground culture as an intangible cultural heritage to UNESCO.

The multinational application was handed over in Paris to UNESCO Ambassadors Véronique Roger-Lacan (France) and Régine Vandriessche (Belgium) on 29 March by Eloïse Galliardm coordinator of the working group.

Showmen’s representatives from the national ESU associations had worked together with international cultural experts over the past few years to prepare the application documents, which included a comprehensive justification as well as a video documentation financed by the ESU on the cultural-historical significance of showmanship and fairgrounds in Europe.

ESU President Albert Ritter said: “We can be very proud of the job we did!”, thanking all those involved for their extraordinary commitment.

 The multinational application was submitted to UNESCO on behalf of the countries Belgium and France. The background is that in these countries fairground culture has already been included in the respective national inventories.

“This is”, explained ESU Secretary General Steve Severeyns, “a prerequisite for the nomination of a cultural form, such as the European fairground culture, for one of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.

“Countries where fairgrounds culture is nationally recognised at a later stage can be integrated into the multinational application.”

What happens next?

The application for recognition of the living European fairground culture will be forwarded to the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee, which will decide on inclusion in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity after a thorough review by an Advisory Committee.

This evaluation process takes about one and a half years, so a final decision can be expected at the end of 2022. During this period, the applicant may be asked to provide additional documents.

Once a year, the Intergovernmental Committee for UNESCO includes new intangible cultural forms as well as good practice examples of intangible cultural heritage conservation in three international UNESCO lists.

· The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity exemplifies the worldwide diversity of intangible cultural heritage. The List is intended to contribute to greater visibility and growing awareness of the importance of intangible cultural heritage worldwide.

· The List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Urgent Need of Preservation is intended to highlight that some cultural forms are threatened by global as well as local developments and require effective conservation measures. UNESCO has established an international fund to support appropriate measures.

· The model projects included in the UNESCO Register of Good Practices show how intangible cultural heritage can be preserved effectively and with innovative methods, passed on to future generations and further developed in a lively manner.

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural and Communication Organization, one of 15 specialised agencies of the United Nations.

Handover of the UNESCO application: Eloïse Galliard from the Musée des Arts Forains, Ambassador of France to UNESCO Véronique Roger-Lacan and Valérie Perles from the French Ministry of Culture. Photo: Musée des Arts Forains

Participants of the working session in May 2019 in Luxembourg. Photo: ESU

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