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Renewal, Innovation and Change: Heritage and European Society (RICHES)


European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme

Total value of project


Project team

Dr Rosamaria Cisneros, Professor Sarah Whatley, Neil Forbes, Professor Moya Kneafsey, Martin Woolley, Amalia Sabiescu, Ernest Taylor, Tim Hammerton


Coventry University (lead), City of Rostock, RMV Leiden, WAAG, Exeter University, Promotor SRL, I2CAT, SDU, SPK, KYGM


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Duration of project

01/12/2013 - 31/05/2016


Project overview

RICHES brought cultural heritage and people together in a changing Europe and finding new ways of engaging with heritage in a digital world.

The project was about change. For many in 21st century Europe, Cultural Heritage (CH) is more about what it is than who we are: though enormously rich, this treasure is often locked away, or crumbling, or in a foreign language, or about a past which to many people - young, old, newcomers to Europe and settled inhabitants - seems of little relevance.

But this is changing.

As digital technologies permeate all of society, compelling us to rethink how we do everything, we ask questions:

How can CH institutions renew and remake themselves?
How should an increasingly diverse society use our CH?
How may the move from analogue to digital represent a shift from traditional hierarchies of CH to more fluid, decentred practices?
How, then, can the EU citizen, alone or as part of a community, play a vital co-creative role?
What are the limitations of new technologies in representing and promoting CH?
How can CH become closer to its audiences of innovators, skilled makers, curators, artists, economic actors?
How can CH be a force in the new EU economy?

Project objectives

  • To develop and establish the conceptual framework of the research, defining terms, setting up networks and developing new understandings of CH-related copyright and IPR in the digital age;
  • ​To investigate the context of change, to study the forces that apply to CH in this context, to design the scenarios in which CH is preserved, made and performed and to foresee the methods of digital transmission of CH across audiences and generations;
  • ​To identify the directions to be taken to maximise the impact of CH on social and community development within the identified context of changes, including IPR and economics research;
  • ​To devise instruments and to elaborate methodologies for knowledge transfer, developing innovative skills, creating new jobs and exploiting the potential of CH in order to foster the economic growth of Europe;
  • ​To tell stories related to Mediated and Unmediated CH, in which the results of the research are given practical application, illustrated and validated with end-users, through concrete case studies;
  • To produce evidence-based policy recommendations, foresight studies, toolkits for building awareness platforms, best practice guidelines for establishing cooperation initiatives.
  • Project impacts will be pursued through the dissemination of the knowledge resources produced throughout the project targeting different specialized audiences and the general public, and including  research reports, scientific articles, think papers, foresight studies, and policy briefs. RICHES impacts will be principally: social, economic, cultural, educational and technological.

    • Social impact: digital media offer the potential to challenge the ‘democratic deficit’ that exists between producers/curators and consumers/ users of CH, encouraging users to engage in their cultural heritage. RICHES outputs will provide an understanding of current processes underpinning the transition towards more fluid and decentred processes around cultural heritage management, preservation, communication, and consumption. Further, it will look into the factors and conditions that should be brought to bear to encourage more democratic processes and stronger links between CH institutions and European citizens; 
    • Economic impact: The project looks into the economic potential of CH with reference to the generation of new jobs, encouraging creativity and innovation and preparing a more skilled European workforce. A research strand will focus on understanding how old skills can be employed in new contexts to foster creativity, innovation and competitive advantage for European professionals and SMEs. Second, the project will provide an understanding and practical insights for setting up more efficient fiscal policies in the age of digitisation;
    • Cultural impact: A special focus of RICHES is on performance-based CH as a kind of heritage able to stimulate innovative interactions with cultural audiences, offering models to be adapted and re-used for other CH domains;
    • Educational impact: RICHES will influence educational processes by offering novel learning opportunities for users and, through the co-creation work undertaken by the partners, tools for the creation of user-generated learning objects, thereby providing resources for teachers and learners;
    • Technological impact: RICHES will create the conditions for a truly user-driven technological research pull, as opposed to the technology push that has so often characterised past initiatives.
  • The RICHES Consortium launched in November 2015 a new website dedicated to the RICHES resources, where all the main outcomes of the project (reports, publications, toolkits, links, etc.) are made available for any interested users.

    The results of RICHES' research fields and activities can be classified in the following two main areas:

    Resources related to RESEARCH, which include: scientific publications; co-creation practices and toolkits; a taxonomy aimed at outlining the conceptual field of digital technologies applied to cultural heritage; an interactive showcase presenting case studies related to the status of digital heritage mediated by memory institutions, such as libraries and museums, allowing interested users to contribute other relevant suggestions; other case study reports such as virtual performances.

    ​Resources related to POLICIES, which include: policy reports and recommendations to support the development of new policy for enhancing cultural heritage; foresight studies to support the development of strategic agendas and joint programming in Europe; reports of the Policy Seminars organised by the project; information about the networking activities and how to join the RICHES network; list of useful links to European, National and International policies on cultural heritage.

    Visit the RICHES resources website to access to the complete set of results made available by the project!

    These outputs are expected to have a widespread impact on public/private sectors, organisations and individuals, particularly in the following areas:

    Social (digital technologies offer the potential to challenge the “democratic deficit” existing between producers/curators and consumers/users of CH, encouraging users to engage in their cultural heritage);

    Economic (the models of skill and technology-transfer developed through the project will influence production methods and capabilities in the two identified sectors of fashion and product design, having wider applicability to many other sectors, such as heritage institutions, cultural tourism, cultural industries SMEs and the wider creative industries);

    Cultural (digital technologies can stimulate innovative interactions with cultural audiences and users); educational (digital technologies can offer novel learning/teaching resources and opportunities);

    Technological (RICHES will create the conditions for a truly user-driven technological research pull, in order to meet the real requirements of the CH sector).

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