UNESCO Chairholder to join the panel at York Festival of Idea’s Fragile Heritage Focus Day

World authorities on cultural heritage will gather in York next month to discuss the damage and destruction taking place in the Middle East. Speakers at the Fragile Heritage Focus Day (Sunday 19 June) include Professor Peter Stone, who coordinates the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Property Protection and Peace at Newcastle University. The Focus Day is part of York Festival of Ideas and will explore responses and reactions to the damage occurring in Syria and Iraq, as well as the importance and relevance of cultural heritage to society today.

Sarah Mitchell, Deputy Director of York Festival of Ideas and organiser of the Fragile Heritage Focus Day, said:

“The destruction of intangible cultural heritage, such as language and musical tradition, is less easy to identify than the physical destruction of heritage, but is similarly subject to deterioration. Our Focus Day will explore why cultural heritage matters, who are its custodians, and what we can do to preserve cultural heritage”.

Professor Stone, who is also Chair of the UK Committee for the Blue Shield – the cultural heritage equivalent of the Red Cross – has worked as a consultant and advisor regarding heritage education, interpretation and management in many parts of the world and was part of the team that developed the World Heritage Education project for UNESCO.

Professor Stone said:

“If we are to get the world to protect cultural heritage sites we have to understand their contemporary importance and relevance. Put succinctly, we study the past, to understand the present, to create the future. Without the sites and monuments of the past this becomes significantly more difficult to do”.

Other headline speakers at York Festival of Ideas’ Fragile Heritage Focus Day include Alia Brahimi, a Director at Contest Global and specialist in terrorism and political trends in the Middle East and North Africa; Helen Walasek, former Deputy Director of Bosnia-Herzegovina Heritage Rescue (BHHR); Jonathan Tubb, Keeper of the Middle East Department at the British Museum; Dr Donna Yates, a Lecturer in Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime at the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, University of Glasgow; and Rory Olcayto, an award-winning journalist and critic and Editor of the Architects’ Journal.

York Festival of Ideas is one of the largest free festivals in the UK and will take place from 7 to 19 June. Under the banner of Tick Tock, the Festival will feature talks, exhibitions, theatre, music and film, with all events designed to educate, entertain and inspire. The Fragile Heritage Focus Day is one of a number of focus days organised to shine a light on some of today’s most pressing challenges including the refugee crisis, living with floods, sustainable food sources, and health and wellbeing.

The Fragile Heritage Focus Day will take place on Sunday, 19 June from 11am to 6.30pm. For further information on York Festival of Ideas and the Fragile Heritage Focus Day visit yorkfestivalofideas.com