In the past, many cities used mega-events to support capital and revenue investments and boost tourism while harnessing their competitiveness on a global scale. Until recently, the emphasis has been placed by and large on the creation of new infrastructural components, new stadiums and other public facilities to host events. In many instances today, on the contrary, mega-event organizers have opted for the re-use of existing facilities, the conversion of inner-city areas and the regeneration of neighborhoods.
For heritage-rich European cities, this shift in paradigm - driven in part by contraction in public budgets and by the reduced pace of expansion of cities - represents both an opportunity and a threat.
How can we bring mega-events back into the urban historic fabric while fostering positive synergies with urban heritage and cultural landscapes? What are the common issues and main tradeoffs to be addressed in European cities? How to improve urban and cultural planning tools for mega-events in heritage-rich cities?
The HOMEE project brings together leading research centers working in the fields of cultural heritage preservation and mega-event planning, in close contact with key institutions and policy officers who have already had or will have direct responsibility for planning and implementing mega-events in Europe.
Impacts & Results
The HOMEE research project explores, for the first time, the relationships between the planning and implementation of mega-events and cultural heritage. The project investigates past events and draws on them in the development of new policy tools that deal with these emerging opportunities and threats in planning and implementing mega-events in heritage-rich cities. The project has done this through completing five case studies of mega-events hosted in heritage-rich cities (Genoa 2004 European Capital of Culture, Milan Expo 2015, Wrocław 2016 European Capital of Culture, Hull UK City of Culture 2017, Pafos 2017 European Capital of Culture) as well as observing in real time the Matera-Basilicata 2019 ECoC and collecting experiences of local stakeholders through a Living Lab.
On April 3, 2020 the HOMEE Project held the “Mega-events in Heritage-rich Cities” online workshop (initially intended to take place in Pafos, Cyprus, it has been reprogrammed to take place virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic). This one-day workshop engaged about twenty experts and policy makers from across Europe (representing also the Associate Partners of the HOMEE project) in a discussion regarding the issues of governance, planning, urban effects and long-term legacy of mega-events. It was the first step in drafting a “Charter for Mega-events in Heritage-rich Cities”. Sneska Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic (Secretary General of Europa Nostra) gave the keynote speech “Mega-events in Heritage-rich Cities: A Challenge for Europe.”
In 2020, the HOMEE Project also published part of its findings in the edited volume: Mega-events and heritage: The experience of five European cities (download here). In April/May 2020 the HOMEE Project promoted the international seminar series “Mega-events and the City: Reflections and Lessons from the Expo, Olympics and European Capital of Culture” in cooperation with Urban@it, with the support from DAStU Politecnico di Milano, Urban Center of the City of Milan, and Triennale Milano. The video of all the speeches are available here. Full program available here.
On July 8, 2021, the “Mega-events in heritage-rich cities: From research to principles and policy recommendations” online conference launched the Charter for Mega-events in Heritage-rich Cities. Among the international experts and policy-makers who contributed to the event: Ana Kočegarova (Head of Programme of the Kaunas 2022 ECoC); Maria Gravari-Barbas (Professor, Paris 1 Sorbonne Sorbonne University; Director of the “Tourism, Culture, Development” UNESCO Chair); Pascal Liévaux (Chair of the EU Joint Programming Initiatives on Cultural Heritage); Chryssa Martini (Eleusis 2023 ECoC); Marco Edoardo Minoja (Cultural Director, City of Milan); Jordi Pascual (Coordinator of the Secretariat of the Committee on Culture of United Cities and Local Governments); Robert Piaskowski (Plenipotentiary of the Mayor of Krakow for Culture, on behalf of the Organization of World Heritage Cities). Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović (Secretary General, Europa Nostra). The video recording of the sessions are now available online. See the morning session HERE, and the afternoon session HERE.
In August 2021, the European Planning Studies journal published the online version of the 9 articles included in the “Cultural Mega-events and Heritage: Challenges for European Cities” special issue. The latter was edited by Davide Ponzini (click here to see the introduction) and included several case studies and findings of the HOMEE Research Project.
On September 6, 2021, the AG Cult press agency published the online article “La ‘Charter for mega-events in heritage-rich cities:’ dalla ricerca alle raccomandazioni di policy” by Davide Ponzini, regarding the Charter’s research background and policy implications.
On September 14, 2021, the HOMEE research project and the Charter for Mega-events in Heritage-rich Cities were presented and discussed at the Milan Urban Center during the “Mega-events and the City: Ricerca e discussione pubblica verso le Olimpiadi Invernali 2026” event at the Triennale Milano. Experts and public administrators joined the public debate. The event was sponsored by the City of Milan and Triennale Milano.