On 15 May, in a successful online masterclass with more than 200 attendees, experts from the European Investment Bank, the Bank of the European Union, presented financing and advisory services opportunities for the cultural heritage sector. This first masterclass was organised by the Institute and Europa Nostra and the full recording is now available.

Cultural heritage has been a long-standing area of funding and advisory services by the European Investment Bank. Such funding and advisory services are concentrated in European countries and can range from conservation of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to urban renewal, notably in less developed European cities and regions.

Cultural heritage has a cohesive power which connects European people and communities. It is one of the 11 standards by which investment projects are assessed for EIB financing, and the EIB has supported many cultural heritage sites either directly or through urban framework loans where the borrowing entity pools together smaller projects. The EIB focuses mostly on the tangible aspects of cultural heritage including buildings, monuments and sites.

The EIB experts presented the various financial products available to interested heritage stakeholders alongside eligibility requirements. Katerina Zisimopoulou, Urban Specialist at the EIB, emphasised that “There are Public Policy Goals that are tied to all forms of financial products. These are requirements that need to be met in order for the financing to be approved.

On funding for cultural heritage, Fabrizio Seminara, Senior Urban Development Specialist at the EIB, added: “We aim for a precautionary approach that protects heritage, provides equitable sharing of benefits and raises awareness, appreciation and enhancement of the heritage itself in the city at hand”.

Apart from the Public Policy Goals, EIB-funded projects need to be aligned with the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

But the EIB is not only about financing. On advisory services for cultural heritage, Patrizia Fagiani, Urban Specialist at the EIB, introduced JASPERS, a joint initiative between the EIB and the European Commission to support projects from the very beginning: “We come into play earlier, helping beneficiaries prepare better projects which deliver on promises, fulfil objectives and ensure optimal spending of public funding.

One of the case studies presented was the financing of the Museum of Urban Wooden Architecture in Vilnius (circa 1.2M€) as part of a five-year framework loan (circa 47M€) with the city of Vilnius. The funding was used for the restoration of the building as well as to provide exhibition and event spaces, multi-functional education areas, a café, and an information centre. The Museum of Urban Wooden Architecture received a Europa Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award in 2023.

The Institute serves as a gateway between the world of cultural heritage and the EIB Group, supporting the EIB Group’s activities in the field of cultural heritage and facilitating the transfer of know-how and experience between different partners and countries to safeguard European cultural heritage.